Mayor Herenton outlines massive budget deficit - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayor Herenton outlines massive budget deficit

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton told city council members Tuesday it's happening everywhere. The news is bad, he says, but it's happening in cities all over the country.

Then his new finance team explained. Bad forecasting and bad accounting gave administrators bad numbers last year.

The 2005 budget is 25.8 million dollars short. The 2006 budget will require 21 million dollars in cuts. The fix: a massive review of everything. City assets could go. City workers could go. Property taxes could rise.

"There's nothing that's sacrosanct," Herenton said. "We're looking at everything."

Herenton accepted responsibility for the mistakes of finance officials who he has since replaced, blaming them for not anticipating trouble and not accounting for liabilities. But, he says, the current numbers are accurate and, he says, the problems can be patched.

"The finance division miscalculated and now what we have, we have an accurate accounting of where we are," Mayor Herenton said.

Council member Carol Chumney worried the Mayor's staff isn't cutting hard enough, and that a month-by-month action plan doesn't account for risks, like a weather event or catastrophe.

"We need to make cuts now so that we have revenues to pay for that. What if there are some other contingencies that they haven't considered?" Chumney asked. "If those come in, then we come in the red. How do we pay the bills? Do we file for receivership? It's putting the city at risk. It's putting the public at risk."

Chumney thinks the cuts in the current budget should be doubled.

Some of the specific cuts the Mayor mentioned included selling parks and libraries, slowing city development, cutting staff and shutting down underused fire stations.

Powered by Frankly