EDGE program hangs in the balance - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

EDGE program hangs in the balance

Some county commissioners bashed the city for failing to pay its half to run EDGE, a support program that puts city and county business services under one roof. Some county commissioners bashed the city for failing to pay its half to run EDGE, a support program that puts city and county business services under one roof.

(WMC-TV) - A taxpayer-funded program to support local businesses and create jobs is hanging in the balance. Shelby County leaders say the City of Memphis stuck the county with the bill to run the EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) program.

Some county commissioners bashed the city for failing to pay its half to run EDGE, a support program that puts city and county business services under one roof. One commissioner suggested getting rid of EDGE altogether.

The City of Memphis owes $4.5 million in funding to run EDGE.

"We are only indicating our intent to withhold approval of the city mayor's appointments," said Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz.

Monday, the Shelby County Commission considered blocking city Mayor A C Wharton's appointments to the EDGE board to send a message.

The proposal had commissioners arguing.

"It's just a spitting contest. I'm not interested in getting into a faux battle," said Commissioner Heidi Shafer.

Some commissioners feel this is just a slap on the wrist, since all board members remain until they are replaced, and the commission cannot vote in new members without the city's approval.

Other commissioners say this is the best alternative to suing the city.

"We're footing the whole bill right now, so we should get all the appointments," said Commissioner Wyatt Bunker.

One commissioner wants to do away with EDGE.

"With seven votes, we could get rid of EDGE," said Commissioner Terry Roland.

Still, others did not agree with the tone against the city.

"I'm really, really astounded at this conversation. All we need to do is have a little diplomacy," explained Commissioner Henri Brooks.

Mayor Mark Luttrell came down from his 12th floor office to oppose blocking Wharton's nominations.

"We worked very hard to get a very diverse board," said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

In the end, the commission deferred the item two weeks to give the city and EDGE a chance to answer to the controversy.

The city told Action News 5 that they fully intend to fulfill their obligation. It is just going to be a bit slower than originally intended and they have made payment arrangements with the county.

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