County officials discuss difficult budgetary choices at retreat - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

County officials discuss difficult budgetary choices at retreat

Shelby County commissioners and Mayor A C Wharton spent Saturday morning crunching numbers during an emergency budget retreat.

"It's an urgent situation," Wharton said. "We're giving it the urgent attention that it needs.  I'm glad the Commissioner Chair of the Budget did that - Chairman Malone."

Most commissioners were dead-set against raising taxes to make up for the $29.5 million shortfall.

"The citizens of Shelby County don't deserve a tax increase," Commissioner Joe Ford said. "Gasoline is three dollars...over three dollars a gallon.  We don't have it."

Commissioners didn't talk much about layoffs, rather spending most of the meeting talking about whether or not to use money from the senior citizen tax freeze to offset the deficit.

Budget Chair Deidre Malone did not expect that to happen.

"It is something seniors are adamant about," She said. "They're calling, they're emailing, and they're also adamant about not wanting a property tax increase."

"If we need to cut services in county government, that's what I'm going to be in favor of," Ford added.

Saturday's retreat was only an informational meeting.  Commissioners will take what they learned at the budget retreat as they work towards a vote at a regular meeting.

"Whatever the solution is, I want the public to know that we gave full consideration to their concerns - their hurts, their pains, their suffering," Wharton said.

Commissioners will meet again to talk about the county's budget on Monday, but it is not yet set for a vote.

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