City Council wrangles over budget issues - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City Council wrangles over budget issues

The budget talk at City Hall reached a new pitch Tuesday. Things got tough, and so did budget cuts. The new finance team talked about freezes in everything from travel, to hiring, to purchasing and on. There was also a discussion about where some of the serious cuts will come. But loudest of all were the voices of frustration from Council members caught in the crossfire.

"It's another case of the city getting the shaft," said council member E.C. Jones.

Jones was upset about a city plan to settle FedEx Forum lawsuits, as was Tajuan Stout Mitchell.

"I am voting for this while I hold my nose," she said, "cause it stinks."

But no one was more upset than Carol Chumney.

"Why are you elected to public service if you're not going to do your job?" she asked.

It was another bad budget day. Chumney doesn't like what's happening with the city budget. She doesn't think the Council is asking tough questions of the administration.

At Monday's meeting, city finance leaders brought down tough cuts. The police department will take a 1.7 million dollar hit. It means cruisers don't get bought. Jobs don't get filled. Precincts lose operating dollars.

"It's not personnel," said Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin. "We'll still deliver the same quality service in the field."

Carol Chumney took issue with the whole package. She says the cuts aren't steep enough, that they leave the city with too little in reserve and that the state requires a balanced budget. But council members ignored her warnings.

"They have abdicated their responsibilities as elected officials and their duties to the public at large," Chumney said. "If we end up at the end of the fiscal year and action has to be taken, the public's gonna know who to hold responsible. And they can't just say it's the Mayor, these city council members have a responsibility too."

None of the council members we spoke with would discuss Chumney's remarks.

In fact, Chumney made a motion in committee Tuesday that the council vote to amend the city budget and to consider far steeper cuts. She wants to cut twenty to thirty million more. But her effort failed when not a single council member would second her motion.

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