MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland presented his 2019 budget at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Public safety is a large focus of Mayor Jim Strickland's budget for 2019; he emphasized the need for more money to hire additional officers.
"Everywhere I go in this city, and I'm sure everywhere you go, people demand safer neighborhoods," Mayor Strickland said.
Strickland acknowledged crime in the Bluff City remains a key issue.
"Trying to reduce violent crime is more than just police officers. They can't do it all by themselves. We've got to lift up our children and give them something productive to do," Strickland said.
The mayor's proposed $685.3 million budget includes a $10.1 million revenue increase from last year.
Here's how Strickland wants to spend that $10.1 million:
- $2.4 million for pension
- $1.8 million for MPD and MFD promotional testing
- $1.5 million for additional MPD manpower
- $1.4 million for targeted pay increases to under-market employees
- $1.3 million for increased Parks programming
- $500,000 for additional MFD emergency medical personnel
- $500,000 for a new minority business incubator
- $500,000 for increased Libraries program
- $200,000 - $300,000 for miscellaneous items
Click here to review the full budget.
The pay increases are intended for those who make less than $42,000 a year and are paid five percent under market value.
The administration couldn't provide the number of employees affected but said even with the raises it would not bring all employees up to $15 an hour.
Strickland said while he supports pay raises for all city employees, he said it is not within the city's budget.
He said a 1 percent across-the-board pay increase would cost $4.4 million. To do that, he said, the city would have to cut funding to parts of the budget, eliminate items from the list, or raise taxes.
Instead, Strickland said he plans to target the city employees who are getting paid the most under market value and give them a raise.
Council member Edmund Ford, Jr. previously proposed the across-the-board pay increase. He wants to bring employees up to what many national protesters say is a living wage. However, Strickland's Office said a living wage in Memphis is actually lower than the $15 an hour quoted by many national protesters.
"It does not get everyone to $15 an hour, maybe over a couple years we can get there," Strickland said.
Under Strickland's proposal, police officers and firefighters will not get raises next year.
"It's really kind of a slap in the face to these public safety officers, fire, and police," said Thomas Malone, president of Memphis Fire Fighters Association.
The mayor acknowledged their frustration when asked.
"We can't do it every year, I wish we could but with only $10 million in increased revenue, it was tight," Strickland said.
The mayor also wants to cut the tax rate but because of a county reappraisal, taxes will remain the same in 2019.
City council members control the purse strings, and budget hearings start May 2.