Wharton: Memphis government should downsize - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Wharton: Memphis government should downsize

Three city directors from the previous administration are retiring in 2012 and divisions could merge, but the rank and file city workers should keep their jobs. Three city directors from the previous administration are retiring in 2012 and divisions could merge, but the rank and file city workers should keep their jobs.

(WMC-TV) – Three city directors from the previous administration are retiring in 2012 and divisions could merge, but the rank and file city workers should keep their jobs.

Tuesday morning, the city's Chief Administrative Officer George Little submitted the mayor's city hall overhaul to the council.

"We are not proposing that there be any addition of positions," he said. "In fact, we believe there can be consolidations and savings."

The overhaul includes cutting the Legislative Liaison position held by longtime, former Councilwoman TaJuan Stout-Mitchell.

Her duties would shift to Little's office. He has his own ties to the Tennessee State Legislature as the former state's corrections commissioner.

Councilman Harold Collins pointed out the city is due $27 million from the state for an upgrade to Elvis Presley Boulevard.

"We need to stay in communication with these people on a regular basis to ensure that the word that they gave us two weeks ago remains the word that they give us two weeks in the future," said Collins.

"We're going to stay on top of that, but we're just going to shift the focus of our legislative office more locally than necessarily at the state level," replied Little.

The mayor later responded - saying the position is a waste of taxpayer money when the state has little money to give.

"Nobody has anything," he said. "So why beat around up there trying to get something that's simply not there."

Little and Wharton also proposed transferring the Public Services and Community Enhancement Divisions into one, Parks Division umbrella.

"On any given day, it's not uncommon to have three different divisions in one square block cutting weeds," Wharton said. "Some cutting weeds on the median. Some cutting along the railroad tracks. Another cutting on the vacant lot over there. It makes no sense."

The directors of the Parks and Community Enhancement Divisions took early retirement.

Public Services Director Janet Hooks would run the combined division.

Wharton said criticisms of Hooks about problems at the animal shelter are not due to her performance. He said anyone in charge of the pound would be pounded by critics.

Wharton pointed out Hooks' other accomplishments.

"About two years ago, the long lines at the motor vehicle inspection station. Have you seen that lately," he asked.

Wharton said city workers will keep their jobs if the divisions are merged.

"This doesn't reduce the number of lots that have to be cut," he said. "We do recognize it could bring some efficiencies. If we need to reduce employees, we can do that through attrition."

Hooks' $116,000 salary would not go down and there is a possibility it could increase with the added responsibilities.

The mayor recommended keeping all of his other division directors. In two weeks, the council will vote whether or not to approve them.

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