Council member says division puts taxpayers at risk - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Council member says division puts taxpayers at risk

Carol Chumney says City Council members aren't doing their jobs and that they are putting taxpayers at risk. The problem - she says - is that everytime she tries to do something about it, she finds herself standing alone.

When Carol Chumney tried to get City Council members to crack open the city budget and make deeper cuts, there was no vote because no one seconded her motion.

And now Chumney says the Council - empowered to approve city spending - isn't doing its job.

"I think that they're not adhering to their responsibilities when they just walk away and leave it to the administration to handle this crisis," says Chumney.

With three fiscal years of funding falls behind them, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's new finance team is working to right the ship.

Their plan balances the budget, but leaves just over a million dollars to spare.

Chumney wants to bank another twenty to thirty million.

And she worries because it doesn't seem that they're worrying.

"The Mayor's even said there are other mindfalls, and potential contingencies out there, lawsuits, where we may have to pay a lot more money if we don't win," she said.

But without someone to second her motions, nothing happens here.

"Carol shoots from the hip sometimes. And i'm not being critical of her. But let's say we voted to cut thirty million out, where are we gonna cut the money. I mean she hasn't come up with a plan," said Councilman E.C. Jones.

Chumney says she has ideas. And she wants Council members to hold hearings to avoid worst case scenarios.

"If we end up in the red, if it's a serious shortfall, if we default on bonds, the city could end up in receivership, be forced into court, have someone else operate city government," she said.

Chumney says the council can keep that from happening.

She says state law requires a balanced budget be sent to the state by the end of December. The administration - she says - shouldn't be making changes without council approval and she is upset that council members don't seem prepared to assume that responsibility.

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