Memphis council members and county commissioners meet - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis council members and county commissioners meet for open discussion

(WMC-TV) - Since 2009, The Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission have not met with each other. But today, in a rare joint session, the two sat down to discuss how they could work together to better the greater Memphis-area.

It is almost an unprecedented move, a meeting of the Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission, together in one room here at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. For members of these bodies, it was all about community like it says on the sign and coming together to help all of the area.

Memphis City Hall sits on one side of Main Street and the Shelby County building on the other. But now, Memphis City Council members and Shelby County Commissioners have decided to put their differences behind them and work together for the benefit of everyone.

"This is not consolidation.  This is open communication between two legislative bodies for the betterment of Memphis and Shelby County," said Janis Fullilove, Memphis City Council member.

During a rare, three hour session, members from both bodies talked about everything from jobs to Payment-in-Lieu-of-Tax (PILOT) programs, to summer youth initiatives, and how everyone in the room can work together to save the city and county money.

"Let's do savings right now, come up with efficiencies right now.  The citizens are waiting and we want to do things that drive a tax decrease," added Heidi Shafer of the Shelby County Commission.

An immediate solution, says commissioner Heidi Shafer, is for both bodies to make large purchases together. Her suggestion - look at things like the purchase of police and sheriffs cars. Shafer says buying those kinds of items in a greater number saves more money.

"It we're going to be workable, there's no reason in the world why we can't talk," said Shafer.

Commissioner Terry Roland says the school merger and the formation of municipal schools divided the community and now its up to city and county leaders to change that divided image.

"I came in here this morning with hope...and I'm excited about this," said Roland.

Leaders in attendance say this won't be the last of these kind of gatherings.  In fact, they plan to have a similar meeting in the next 60 to 90 days.

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