Wharton says massive cuts needed to balance county budget - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Wharton says massive cuts needed to balance county budget

Calling it the toughest series of cuts he's ever had to make, Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton on Wednesday announced millions of dollars in cuts from the county's budget.  And, Wharton warned, the cuts may not be enough to balance the budget.

(CLICK HERE TO READ THE MAYOR'S WRITTEN REMARKS)

The list of cuts includes a hiring freeze, employee buyouts, and layoffs.  Almost every aspect of the county's operations will be affected.

"It's going to hurt," Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell said.  "It's going to push us a little bit."

Luttrell, who has already cut 22 vacant positions from his department, said he is now looking at the delay of new hirings and some training classes.  One thing that will not be cut, he said, is the number of deputies.

"We've pretty much drawn the line with the condition of crime in this community," Luttrell said. "We cannot afford to cut law enforcement officers. Neither can we afford to cut correctional officers."

Wharton's plan would also reduce funding for non-profit agencies, such as the Food Bank, Drug Court and the Exchange Club.

Wharton said he's never overseen such drastic cuts before, and said he wanted Shelby County Commissioners to set up a special task force to monitor the impact of the proposed changes.

"So we can monitor what going on in the courts, what's going on in the Health Department and any minute we see that we have cut to the point where its having a negative impact on the health safety and welfare of the citizens, we'll come back, because I am concerned that might happen," he said.

And while Wharton promised that essential services will continue, he said everyone in the county needs to think about a leaner, less costly budget.

Wharton said he will not raise property taxes, but said that means the county may face the same financial troubles at budget time next year.


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