Taxpayers could feel sting of deficit - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taxpayers could feel sting of deficit

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton took full responsibility Tuesday for the failures of his former financial team.

"So if Channel 5 needs to know that, I've conceded that," said Herenton. "My previous financial team made some mistakes," he added.

Those mistakes helped sink the city into a nearly $26 million deficit in 2005. The mayor says some $21 million in budget cuts will be needed come 2006.

"We cannot operate this government the way we've operated it in the past," said Herenton.

Nothing is sacred when it comes to controlling expenses. Herenton mentioned personnel cuts and cutting city assets. He put unions on notice. They shouldn't ask for too much come negotiation time. Another property tax hike is not out of the question. And city hall itself will not escape financial scrutiny.

"We think we have to look at every division to see if there's redundancy and overlap and how we can make our internal operation more efficient," said financial director Robert Lipscomb.

Fixing the city's finances will take years according to the mayor. He's convinced his new team can get the job done while former number crunchers take the fall.

"I know there's some fault and mistakes were made," said councilwoman Tajuan Stout Mithcell. "But we've got to have recovery," she added.

Recovery that might not be very easy on the city or taxpayers.

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