Memphis Mayor A C Wharton proposes budget cuts

(WMC-TV) – Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is proposing $24 million in cuts on day-to-day operations in 2013.

While that includes cuts to public safety, the mayor is asking for increases in his own executive budget.

With a one-time, 47-cent tax increase to pay for schools, the mayor's preliminary budget proposes putting three fire companies out of service, less funding for police staff, and the closure of five libraries.

"Six annexations and they want us to do this with less truck companies?  Less fire companies?" said Larry Anthony with the Memphis Fire Association.

While the mayor is promising no layoffs in 2013, his budget calls for the elimination of three fire companies and it funds 26 fewer fire positions than last year.

"One thing you have to have is fire service, and when you start cutting companies, you're cutting the safety of not only the firefighters, but the citizens," said Anthony.

The budget also funds 163 fewer police positions.

"In cutting the police budget, they weren't able to fund new classes," said Memphis Police Association President Michael Williams.

No police academy, plus retirement, attrition, and officers leaving means fewer officers to pay.

While the police budget spends less on staff, it would increase by $4.4 million.

Amid proposed cuts to public safety, the mayor's budget calls for increases in his executive decision, including nine new positions and an overall funding increase of more than $750,000.

The City Attorney's Office would also add two positions, but cut the budget by $3 million.

The proposed budget also included the following changes:

-General Services would get a staffing and budget boost.

-Housing would get more money.

-Human Resources would get more positions, but less money.

-Information Services would get no new positions, but millions more in funding.  

-Parks and Recreation would absorb Community Enhancement and Public Services divisions.  

-Public Works positions would double, and so would its budget.

Budget hearings begin Saturday.  The deadline to balance the budget is the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

In response to this report, the city said the positions in the executive division "came over as part of a restructuring in the divisions. They are not new positions, just new to the executive division."

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