Mayor says he will balance city budget in 2007 without raising taxes - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayor says he will balance city budget in 2007 without raising taxes

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton got more specific Tuesday about money matters. In a speech before the Downtown Rotary Club, Herenton said he'll balance the city budget in 2007 without raising taxes.

"We have every expectation of presenting a FY2007 budget, a balanced budget without a tax increase," Herenton said.

Personnel and benefits make up about 70% of the city's budget.

Mayor Herenton has hired consultants to see if that is one place the city can save money.

"We're looking at benefits. What do they pay employees in Atlanta, Dallas, St. Louis, and Charlotte, just to mention a few, to see if we're comparable or are we excessive," he said.

Excess is what the Mayor believes the consultants will find in several areas.

"It is my contention that we have far more schools, far more fire departments, rather fire stations, than what we need for this population," Herenton said.

So some fire stations and police precincts may close.

While his goal is to balance the budget, the mayor said he that will not happen if it's at too high a cost to the citizens.

"I'm never going to jeopardize the public safety of people," he said. "If I had to the citizens and say you need this tax rate to hire 20 more police officers and I thought it was warranted, I'd do that," said Herenton.

But right now, it sounds like cuts are in our future if the mayor's prediction of a balanced budget is to come true.

Mayor Herenton said the comparison study should be complete by April.

He will meet with the unions to talk about compensation and benefits in February.

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