MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton is once again talking consolidation.
Herenton, who has raised the idea of consolidation before, said Friday the current economic and financial climates in Memphis and Shelby County were one more reason why a metro form of government should be considered - even if it means surrendering the city charter.
Herenton insisted that local leaders need to act now on a metro form of government, which he said would be more efficient and effective.
"We can't do with two governments," Herenton said. "You cannot do it with two school systems. You cannot do it with two law enforcement's. We are wasting taxpayers' dollars."
Herenton then called for a governmental summit, where city, county, and business leaders could meet to set up a more efficient structure of government. One idea included pushing a special referendum next year.
"In 2009, to allow the citizens of Memphis to vote on a charter surrender," Herenton said.
But the surrender of the city's charter could allow other cities to gobble up parts of Memphis.
"You could have Germantown or Bartlett or some other area cherry pick certain areas of Memphis and annex, say, down the Poplar corridor," Memphis City Council member Shea Flinn said.
Charter surrender or not, Flinn said, consolidation needs to be addressed.
Herenton is expected to talk with both the Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission before the government summit.
"Ultimately, it's something we're going to have to seriously consider," commissioner Steve Mulroy said. "I think there's a separate question whether the consolidation of the school systems make sense, and I think the two need to be considered separately."
Others were skeptical.
"What are the real reasons we want to consolidate, and how does it benefit every Memphis and Shelby County resident?" Memphis City Council member Wanda Halbert asked.
It's an old argument, under a much different financial and economic climate.