City and county leaders hint at personnel cuts for 2009 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

City and county leaders hint at personnel cuts for 2009

2009 will likely mean job cuts for some City of Memphis and Shelby County government employees.
    
On New Year's Day, city and county leaders discussed ways to balance budgets for this year. Both governments are strapped for cash.     

At the Annual New Year's Day Prayer Breakfast, council members rang in the new year with concerns about the city's financial future. 
 
"We've got to look closely at our budget to make sure that we're fiscally responsible," said council chair Myron Lowery.

Council leaders are faced with the tough decision of whether or not to cut some city jobs. 
 
"Personnel costs are the highest expenditure in the city, and if you want big cuts, that's where you have to cut," said councilman Jim Strickland.

Leaders say they'll consider creative ways to make any layoffs as painless as possible. 
 
"Maybe there's something that can be like FedEx did, where there was a reduction, but people kept their jobs," said council member Kemp Conrad.
 
Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton also hinted at job cuts for county government. "Some would say 'why do you always come to the employees?' Well, that's where 70 percent of the money goes," he said. 

But Wharton says he's looking at proposing a 4-day workweek and rolling layoffs "in which, maybe this division is basically closed for one week, a quarter or whatever, and then we roll onto this and it's closed."

Wharton says employees will make less money, but they'll be able to keep their jobs and health and retirement benefits.


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