City budget debate to begin in January - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andrew Douglas

City budget debate to begin in January

The City of Memphis is expected to make some major budget cuts in 2009, and the city council must decide between what Memphis wants and what Memphis needs.
   
Memphis' projected shortfall for 2009 is about $24 million.

The Bluff City is in much better shape than other cities.

But the budget debate is expected to be contentious next year, setting up a showdown of where, what and perhaps whom to cut.

"You can't always please everybody," said city councilman Edmund Ford, Jr..

Few would argue that budget talks won't make for a pleasing discussion.
 
"I sincerely hope that the citizens of Memphis know that we're doing the best, and that we do have the best interest of all 670,000 citizens when we do make our decisions," said Ford. 

But with housing prices falling and people spending less, our current economic slowdown means lower revenues and tough choices in 2009.

"There's going to be decisions made that are not going to make the majority of people happy, but our back is against the wall," said councilman Shea Flinn.
 
Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton stated that, due to the economic conditions, 2009 will be the toughest of his tenure.

"We will see the worst this year," said Ford, Jr. "I believe that, because we have been fiscally responsible, we will not be affected as bad as some municipalities."  

Nonetheless, the cuts are coming. And right now Ford and Flinn aren't talking specifics, but everything's on the table -- with budget talks expecting to begin at the end of January.

"The important thing for the public to understand is this is not going to be a question of government waste," said Flinn. "We're going to be cutting the meat."

The mayor has talked about buyout plans for city workers. That plan could be tweaked and could help with the overall budget when talks begin in a few weeks.


Click here to e-mail Andrew Douglas.
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