Council members comment on city finances - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Council members comment on city finances

During his state of the city address in January, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton was thinking about June.  He promised to have the city's finances "back on track" by June 30th, the end of the fiscal year.

"And I want to assure you that the fiscal challenges we face today--we will overcome them," said Mayor Herenton.

"Anything is achievable if you've got all the parties working together," says Memphis City Councilman Rickey Peete.

Peete admits the budget process required a balancing act.  But he says the mayor's prediction may have come to pass.

"We've come from having less than a half-million dollars in reserves to close to $20 million in the reserve, and that's significant," says Peete.

It's not significant enough according to Councilwoman Carol Chumney.

"They added new staff in the mayor's office," cites Chumney.

She says the administration should have cut deeper in order to save the city even more money.  On a scale of one to ten, she goes low.

"I mean, I guess I would put us at the bottom," says Chumney.

She believes the mayor's prediction had more to do with politics than the city's plight.  The effort to recall Herenton was just getting underway at the time.

"And I'm sure he wanted to make it sound good so he could get through that, and he got through it," says Chumney.

She believes it will be a while before the city gets back in the black.

Councilman Peete tells us that preliminary numbers on the "state of the city" might be available soon after the fiscal year wraps up later this week.  But Councilwoman Chumney says it could be this fall, or even next year, before we know for sure where the city stands financially, and whether or not the mayor's prediction came true.

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