Mayor Herenton previews city budget numbers

In spite of what the city budget as been through during the past few years, the Mayor's budget is very optimistic. Half a billion dollars... No tax hike. No layoffs and no raises.

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton accepted full responsibility for the budget problems of the last two years and then, accepted accountability for fixing them.

He says the new budget for the next fiscal year does that.

Mayor Herenton states, "No tax increase. No diminution of core services. No layoffs. No reductions in benefits of employees. This is a great budget."

Last year's 25 million dollar shortfall - he says - will turn into next year's 20-million dollar surplus.

The 505-million dollar budget is bolstered by some debt restructuring, a new storm water drainage fee and a freeze on hiring, travel and overtime. And the Mayor hinted at pending consolidations of departments like information technology, human resources, finance, legal, customer service and public relations.

But the biggest ripple of the budget will be at union halls, where city employees will talk about the raises they're NOT getting.

The Mayor had strong words for union leaders who - he says - don't get it.

Herenton continues, "I look forward to working with responsible union leaders in the future... because the ones they have now are irresponsible."

Amid general praise from Council members for the Mayor's budget, Councilwoman Carol Chumney took issue.

City councilwoman Carol Chumney says, "To say that the union leaders are irresponsible under... after looking at the record of what's happened over the past few years with the administration's errors and mistakes and misrepresentations by some in the administration to this public body... I don't that is an appropriate thing to say."

The capital improvements budget, by the way, is 1.85 billion. Changes in spending on projects was NOT discussed today.