It was prompted by a fiscal crisis and, in particular, a proposed City of Memphis property tax contribution of $87.5 million to Memphis City Schools following an $89 million contribution the previous year and $78 million the year before that.
"Memphis must face some municipal financial challenges . . . Now is the time to be proactive and make some leadership decisions."
"If we do not provide alternative sources of revenue to support municipal services, our reliance on the property tax will continue."
"During my political career, I have advocated the merger of city and county governments, including both school systems. I have also advocated finding solutions to the ADA (average daily attendance) issues."
"In my judgment, the Commercial Appeal editorial establishment and the political leaders in Memphis and Shelby County tend to avoid addressing the flaws in our present funding paradigms. It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback but far more difficult to support needed changes in our government structure."
"Neither government can continue reducing expenditures to the levels that some of the timid politicians are advocating without imposing serious disruptions to government services. I am prepared to make tough decisions, are you?
"The administration and the Council should work together cohesively to solve our immediate fiscal challenge and develop a sound plan for the future. We are receptive to responsible input and recommendations that lead to positive results.
"I recommend consideration of the proposal to transfer either partial or total responsibility for funding the City School System to Shelby County. These actions could add annually $40 million to $80 million to City Government's budget and reserves. It's time to make some tough decisions."
Willie W. Herenton,
Date: September 21, 2004