MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The wet weather and storms even impacted the Memphis City Council Tuesday, causing a slight change in their normal meeting plans.
It’s no secret the roof inside the main council chambers on the first floor leaks at times. That’s why council members held their full meeting in the committee room upstairs on the fifth floor Tuesday afternoon.
Still, they discussed a number of issues not related to the weather.
At the request of council member Cheyenne Johnson, a committee and later the full council signed off on paying a consultant up to $15,000 of taxpayer funds to analyze the Memphis 3.0 plan and report back to the council in the wake of constituent concerns.
“With a consultant we can get an unbiased opinion and hopefully ensure all the citizens that we are keeping everybody in mind,” said Johnson.
Memphis 3.0, the comprehensive plan for land use and growth, was put in motion by Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration. The plan emphasizes building “up not out” in the city’s urban core and limiting annexation. Strickland enacted the plan by executive order in May of 2019, but it still needs council approval, which keeps getting delayed.
“With all these delays, we can never get it off the ground at all,” said Sherman Greer, council member.
The consultant’s work may not be complete until mid-September, so more delays appear likely.
MLGW’s leadership team told the council the electric division is $2.4 million in the red as of June. The utility said sagging sales are to blame, but they expect to be in the black by the end of the budget year.
“We are very weather dependent, especially on the electric side,” said J.T Young, MLGW president and CEO.
The council is continuing to discuss a crackdown on plastic checkout bags. The proposal by council member Berlin Boyd first included a bag tax but has evolved into a ban. It’s moving forward despite a state law enacted in 2019 that prevents local governments in Tennessee from regulating plastic bags. A final vote and more debate is expected when the council meets again in three weeks.
“My goal is, we will get the Attorney General’s opinion and see if we can lobby to see if the city of Memphis and or the Big 4 (Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga) in the state of Tennessee can move forward, if they want to ban plastic bags in their cities,” said Boyd.
MPD was also on hand Tuesday, discussing the new hands-free driving law in Tennessee. As we’ve reported they can’t give you a ticket for it because it isn’t a city ordinance, but it does give them grounds to stop you. MPD said it plans to work with council to update the ordinances to include hands-free.