Impasse committee votes to give police raises

A political firestorm is brewing at City Hall, after some Memphis City Council members voted to give police officers raises.  Members approved the raises despite the Mayor's threat of layoffs or a tax increase.

In the first impasse committee meeting, council members wasted no time, voting 2-1 to give police raises despite the Mayor's claim that there's no money for it.

"This is the first impasse hearing out of 22 and I'm afraid that it may have set a very dangerous precedent," says Councilman Tom Marshall.

Marshall chairs the police committee and was the lone vote against the raises to avoid a tax hike or layoffs.  "I voted to freeze that pay raise because I don't believe the taxpayers - the property owners - could afford the rate increase."

Carol Chumney and E.C. Jones voted to spend $1.8 million and to give police union members a one percent raise in January and another in July.

But Jones tells us he's not worried about finding the money.  "If he comes to us and says he needs a tax increase, I will not be voting for that.  Where's the money going to come from?  He's going to have to figure out how he can pay the bills.  We approve his budget for a certain amount of money then it's up to him to figure out where he needs to cut," he says.

Meanwhile, Council attorney Allan Wade sent a note to council members reminding them they have the right to veto any votes taken by these impasse committees.  And that very well could happen.  If the police union gets a raise, the other unions will want the same thing.  And Council members passed a resolution earlier this year vowing not to raise property taxes.  It will likely come up again at tomorrow's council meeting.