Don't mess with City Council member Barbara Swearengen Holt. If you want a job or an appointment with the city, you had better make sure you live there. Just ask Artemis Williams.
In front of the City Council's Personnel, Intergovernmental and Annexation Committee this week, Williams -- the manager of rapper Yo Gotti -- was scheduled to be appointed to the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission. And then Holt, seeing his out-of-area cell phone number, said, "I need to know where this young man lives."
Luckily, Williams gave a Memphis zip code. But later in the same committee, Holt asked for the council's support to hold a referendum on the issue.
Citing a diminishing tax base, Holt said, "We need to have city employees live within the city limits ... if the city supports you, you ought to support the city." The referendum would come with the understanding that all current city employees would be grandfathered in.
Not all council members agreed. Carol Chumney said she had a different take on residency in Memphis. "My philosophy is that we're regional now," she said. "We really need to consolidate city and county government. We need to start working as a team."
Chumney said the way to keep people living in Memphis was to keep property taxes low and the quality of the schools high. "I would rather people want to live here," she said, instead of forcing them to do so.
However, the point was raised that the county's property tax increase -- estimated this year at 23 cents -- would affect those who live in the city.
Because the issue would require a change to the city charter, voters would have to agree by referendum. This week will be the first reading, and the issue will be discussed again in committee before the resolution's third reading.