City leaders are nervous about balancing the city's budget

Memphis city leaders are nervous about balancing the city's budget without layoffs or tax hikes.

Days from now, the Mayor will present his budget for the next year. But with 22 city union contracts still unsigned and thousands of workers demanding raises, it may be harder than ever to make ends meet.

"Ladies and gentleman, it is a balanced budget that requires no tax increase," Herenton said in 2004, six months before hundreds of full-time workers and thousands of part-timers were laid off.

A year later he said, "Let me tell you this. At the end of the day. At the end of the day, we need more revenue."

The Mayor then asked the Council to approve a 54-cent property tax hike. They ultimately voted for half that.

Days from now, the Mayor will present his budget for the next fiscal year and City leaders are - understandably - anxious.

"We've had very large sweeping statements that talk about what a wonderful position we're in financially and then ultimately we find out that that wasn't the case," said Councilman Tom Marshall.

The Mayor has promised a tight, but balanced budget this year.

His staff has hinted that there will be no layoffs.

The Council has promised no tax hike and some members remain optimistic.

It will mean creative cutting.

"From what I understand, things are looking better. So I'm hoping for a positive budget situation," says Councilman Dedrick Brittenum.

But with thousands of city union workers demanding raises and nearly two dozen union contracts unsigned, the budget may put the council between a rock and a hard place.

"The budget will be presented to us without any negotiation settled with the 22 bargaining units, which means the budget comes to us assuming that the administration's position will be accepted. Should we choose to change any of that, it will be our obligation in the budget to find the money to fund the changes," said Councilman Scott McCormick.

Every one percent raise for city workers costs city coffers four million dollars.

The Mayor's spokesperson told us this afternoon that he wants to wait until next week to discuss his plans.