Council members discuss hiring freeze - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Council members discuss hiring freeze

Shea Flinn Shea Flinn

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis City Council members discussed a possible hiring freeze for the city Tuesday as they sweat out a more than $20 million budget crunch.

City administrators have not said how many jobs they plan to freeze, but they made one thing clear: They don't want this to in any way impact public safety.

Tuesday, Memphis City CAO Keith McGee went before the City Council to alert them of Mayor Willie Herenton's plan to impose a hiring freeze on hundreds of job vacancies.

When asked how many positions would be frozen, McGee could not give a number.

"If you look at it from a frozen position, there's not a number," he said. "We're looking at every position we fill after public safety, which is police and fire and the EMA position, and then community enhancement."

Councilman Joe Brown made it known he wants the mayor to proceed with caution in other areas as well.

"Public works, general services, parks - all of these particular areas have a tremendous amount of impact on the run of the city," Brown said.

McGee said the city has 576 vacancies, a $30.5 million savings.  But if they continue to fill vacancies in police and fire, there would be only 250 vacancies, at a savings of $11.1 million.

Some council members wondered if they were stepping out of their jurisdiction.

"My question is where do we draw the line in our duties as it relates to the administration and the council?" council member Barbara Ware asked.

"I understand where the line is.  It's about the funding which we absolutely control, and we're requesting that if you haven't used it, put it in the reserves because we're going to need it for something else," council member Shea Flinn said.

McGee said Mayor Herenton is hammering out his 2010 budget, and should have more concrete numbers when he unveils it April 21st.

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