MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis City Council members quietly signed off on $700 million budget, without lots of fighting or disagreements.
The council's budget chair says nobody wanted to rock the boat too much because it was an election year.
Still, the mayor's administration was able to squeeze in a few new development initiatives.
“Let's face it. Let's be honest. It was safe because it was an election year,” said Martavius Jones, Memphis City Council Budget Chair.
Memphis City Council budget chair Martavius Jones says that's likely the main reason why council members got to work, approving the budget in short order.
Jones is up for re-election in October, along with his colleagues on the council and Mayor Jim Strickland.
Council members didn't raise taxes this year, but Jones says he's not sure how long that will last.
This is due to demands for more police officers and better city services, and infrastructure needs at MLGW, since the council controls the utility’s rates.
“I want to tell people to brace yourself next year for a tax increase,” said Jones.
Public safety employees like police and fire ended up getting a four percent raise. Memphis mayor Jim Strickland initially proposed three percent.
All other city employees received a one percent raise, angering unions for laborers, like mechanics and sanitation workers.
In the budget, the council approved the creation of two new funds. Mayor Strickland has said they are a pathway to greater revitalization.
“There are a lot of areas of the city that have been disinvested areas of the city where there is not a strong market for redevelopment,” said John Zeanah, Division of Planning and Development director.
The first fund is the Community Catalyst Fund. The city can use up to $800,000 to spur private investment in sites like the old Melrose High School by funding infrastructure improvements to sidewalks or drainage.
The second fund is the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, with another $800,000.
It's aimed at providing home implements for lower income Memphians in the city's anchor neighborhoods.
“The city has to take a leadership role in seeing those places. See new investment and new redevelopment,” said Zeanah.
While the city has its budget process wrapped up, the county is still working on theirs.
The county also has an online survey out now and is seeking resident input on priorities.