The chambers were packed once again with Police and Fire supporters and retirees still upset about the city cutting their benefits at the last meeting. Some people reported on the surprising attentiveness of the commissioners at this meeting, what a difference a large number of involved citizens can make. Those who have attended these meetings in the past know, attentiveness regarding the citizens speaking out is not something the councilmen have ever been accused of. Having said that, the councilwomen, well that's another story. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the councilwomen, they are mostly attentive on a regular basis, and for that we give them kudos! We would like to clarify, the Midsouth Sentinel does not participate in the divisive politics of those who try to divide people by gender and has nothing against men, rather we like them very much! We are just calling it how we see it, however the cards may fall....
Also reported on by Maria Phelps was the "amazing audience of citizens hungry to know where the money went and is going. They see what has happened without their engagement in the process. Memphis finest and their families are ready to push back, pushing back currently and some will continue even after all this is resolved. I can see in their eyes and hear it in their voices when I spoke with many of them. They fully realize this situation came about because there is not enough citizen oversight of our legislators and the administration. We know the council members have been living in La~La Land, ruling how they wished, with no real concern for the people, many being yes men to Wharton over and over. "
Note the statements in bold, they are key to the problem...
News Channel 3 had this to say about it...
EMPHIS, Tenn. — Some came with a simple message, others with an elaborate budget breakdown, but they all came in support of Memphis city employees.
Victor Raspa pointed to one money saving solution. “We need to freeze the PILOT subsidies for 5 years. We are all in trouble. We are all in this.”
Raspa said freezing the program that gives businesses tax incentives to move or stay here would save Memphis $42 million dollars alone.
That’s almost exactly what changes to city employee benefits are saving.
Next year, another $30 million will be needed.
But some council members said current incentives are a done deal and they can’t go back on their word.
Other council members however pointed out that’s exactly what they’re doing to employees and retirees.
Former city council members Carol Chumney and TaJuan Stout Mitchell suggested 10% cuts across every department saying it should net about $60-million in savings.
Carol Chumney said, “It seems that the cuts with the tax increase would spread this out amongst more people instead of just one group of people.” Ummmm Carol sweetie, we are already the highest taxed county in the state. We payer higher property taxes than Beverly Hills, but by all means, continue on your march to Detroit!
Others pointed to the mayor’s lengthy list of appointed employees.
Raspa said, “Weve got 400 political positions appointed by the mayor. A lot of the positions have $80,000 salaries and above each year.” THIS is a great point and one made by one of our own at the City Council's meeting last year when they raised our property taxes, you know cuz they just ain't high enough! The comments were directed towards the council and the mayor..." if the city of Los Angeles which has a population of almost 4 million (Memphis has 655,000) only has around 200 mayoral appointed positions but Memphis has over 400 why can't you cut around 300 of them. And you think those appointees aren't overpaid bureaucrats??? But I digress...
Councilmen Shea Flynn admitted changes are needed to the PILOT program but said it is what brings big business and jobs to Memphis.
Flynn said with 10% unemployment in the city, it’s a tough call, “Revoking the PILOT program, there is risk there of companies leaving and losing a lot more jobs. It is a delicate balancing act. It is a very severe challenge. We are not done yet.” Flinn makes some very good points and we would like to point out that Corporations don't pay taxes, consumers do. I know people think removing these PILOT's would solve everything but removing might provide some schadenfreude for some people but would possibly create a mass exodus from Memphis because most of these businesses wouldn't be able to pass on the increase in their cost of doing business on to the customer without hurting their bottom line, PROFITS and despite what you have been told, PROFITS ARE A GOOD THING! They pay salaries and many other good things. Memphis needs to focus on crime and education, solve those two problems, people and businesses will flock to your city....See Austin,Tx. We realize this is easier said than done but focusing on doing the wrong things will hurt us even more.
The Segal Company, a human resources consulting firm, found the city pension is underfunded by $467 million.
That contradicts a report commissioned by the firefighters union which put the number at $301 million and a report done by PricewaterhouseCoopers which put it at $682 million. Once you pass the 100 hundred million mark, does it really matter what you are arguing over? This is where the Common Core Math program would really be useful, after all, it's not the answer that matters, it's the process silly and if you can justify your process well then you will be guaranteed an elected office for as long as you can pull the wool over the people's eye's! Ain't politics grand!
Recently, the city council voted to have current employees and some retirees pay 24% more for health benefits.
Other retirees could pay double or more for insurance or seek alternatives such as the ACA.
The Affordable Care Act??? Really?? ACA which in real life is not very affordable??? That ACA??? No thanks, I'll pass and take the other CR$P sandwich you are offering...
Those of you who want to change the status quo, stay involved, attend these meetings every time the door opens. I will end with a quote that one councilmen said to me before the start of one of these meetings several months ago, I won't name any name names but his 1st name doesn't start with A, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O P, Q, R S,T,U V,W,,X,Y or Z..."Are you going to attend every one of these meetings?" Me " Well, every one that I am physically able." Him "Awwwww" used as a sign resigned disappointment.
This is your government, what are YOU going to do to fix it?