Mayor Herenton pitches consolidation plan

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Citing old documents and studies from 1993 and 2002, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton pitched his plan for consolidation to city and county leaders Tuesday.

"We need to do this for the future of our community," Herenton said.

Addressing members of both the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission, the mayor cited examples and arguments in the need for a metro form of government in Memphis and Shelby County.

"We have the highest combined tax rate of any government in the state of Tennessee," Herenton said. "We owe the taxpayers a reduction."

Herenton said the move to one centralized government would also be more efficient.

"It bogs down decision making - planning, and dealing, with two governments," Herenton said.

Memphis City Council member Myron Lowery agreed.

"Every governmental body in Memphis and Shelby County should support this," he said.

Herenton's recommendations include setting up exploratory committee, establishing a new charter commission, and asking both city and county leaders to adopt a resolution on consolidation that county residents would vote on in 2010.

If approved, the metro government would be implemented in 2011.

"I have no aspirations of running for metro mayor," Herenton said. "This is it for me, and I just want the public to have the form of government."

Not only did Herenton leave himself out of the consolidation equation, but city and county schools as well.

"We've lived in abundance, and in these time of austerity, we going to learn to conduct government differently, and even in our personal and family lives we gonna do more with less," he said.

In the end, Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz said, the decision will be in the hands of voters, and it might be a difficult sale.

"The citizens out side the city of Memphis are going to have to vote on this, and its going to require a lot of give and not much take to get that support."

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