Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Councilman Proposes City Employee Pay Cut

Posted By on Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Jim Strickland
  • Jim Strickland
Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland wants to amend the budget to cut the pay of city employees to avoid a property tax increase to pay for schools.

Strickland made his proposal in a letter this week to Mayor A C Wharton and City Council Chairman Harold Collins. It can be discussed in the council's executive session next Tuesday, June 22nd. But in order for it to come to a vote in the full council, someone who voted earlier this month to approve the budget would have to offer a motion to reconsider the vote.

Strickland said the Tennessee Supreme Court is unlikely to overrule a $57 million judgment against the City of Memphis for school funding.

"If the council doesn't do anything and the court doesn't hear the appeal, it means the judgment must be paid. The temptation will be to raise taxes," he said.

He suggests rolling back part of the eight-percent pay raise given to all city employees over the last two years and planning to pay the judgment over a period of three or four years.

Strickland's plan is similar to one offered by councilman Shea Flinn but not voted on by the council earlier this month. Flinn, Strickland, Kemp Conrad, and Reid Hedgepeth voted against the $623 million operating budget.

"I voted against (the budget) because City government is increasing in size when it should be decreasing," Strickland said in his letter. "Memphis is losing population, and our tax base is static."

In a separate action, the council must still approve the budget for the Memphis City Schools.

Flinn said Wednesday he will recommend that the council not take final action on the schools budget until MCS provides a definitive number on its enrollment, which is the basis for state funding. The declining MCS enrollment has been reported at more than 111,000 to below 105,000. So far, Flinn said, Superintendent Kriner Cash has not provided a number.

"I am not going to hear anything until I have that," said Flinn.

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