Friday, April 2, 2010

Metro Divisions: How Many Is Too Many?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 11:28 AM

The Memphis Shelby County Metropolitan Charter Commission is trying to minimize the number of departments in its proposed consolidated government. But it's struggling.

"The city has 13 divisions. The county has what? Five?" said metro charter commission member Richard Smith. "We have 12 task forces. If every one of those adds two divisions, that gets us up to 24. We should be shooting for less than 18."

The metro charter commission is writing the charter for a proposed consolidated Memphis Shelby County Government. Memphis City and Shelby County residents will vote on the proposal November 2nd.

Of the task forces that have presented thus far, two of them have proposed two divisions. And many of the commissioners are concerned about that.

"If every task force creates two divisions, we're going to have more divisions than we do now," said City Councilman and charter commission member Jim Strickland. "City government has 13 divisions and I think that's too many."

Last night's presentation of the transportation and infrastructure task force suggested splitting those functions into a department of environment and public works and a department of transportation that would oversee road, bridges, and bike path construction, among other things.

The Public Amenities task force looked at things such as FedExForum, Shelby Farms, the Agricenter, and the city's Office of Multicultural and Religious Affairs. It suggested a Parks & Community Enhancement department for parks, the Landmarks Commission, and the Memphis City Beautiful Commission, as well as a Civilian Enhancement Department that would include the library, the film & television commission, and the music commission.

"A lot of people are under the impression this whole exercise is about economies of scale," said Rufus Washington. "I think we have to be careful about adding divisions. A lot of people think government is already top-heavy."

In other news, the naming of the new government has come down to two very exciting choices and, sadly, neither of them are "'Lil Detroit." (As commenter pstd said: "It has some of the same economic problems, and Fords have been big local players.")

Nope, the front runner is Memphis Metropolitan Government, followed closely by Memphis-Shelby Metropolitan Government. Where is the creative class when you need them?

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