Among the more interesting points during Tuesday’s city council budget debate was some common ground between council members Kemp Conrad and Wanda Halbert.
Facing a chamber filled with members of the city’s municipal unions, Conrad pointed out that while the police and fire unions supported a property tax increase that the council later voted down, most of the police department and more than 40 percent of the fire department live outside the city of Memphis and wouldn’t be paying the tax hike.
That brought to mind, one of the issues Halbert has been very vocal about during her tenure of the council – residency requirements, specifically requiring city of Memphis employees to live in the city or at least in Shelby County.
During the council discussion, Conrad suggested that perhaps there was a circumstance under which he could support such a requirement.
Halbert’s point during budget deliberations has been that many of the solutions to closing the budget gap, now at $11 million, are “punitive” measures aimed at Memphians who continue to pay an unfair burden for services the city provides that are also used and taken advantage of by those who live outside Memphis.
For Halbert, that includes jobs on the city payroll and tax breaks for private corporations based elsewhere who also hire from outside the city as well as inside. That’s where the opinions on residency begin to differ.
For now at least, the residency discussion didn’t go any further than Conrad’s comment as the council was enmeshed in the numbers of a budget season that is coming to the July 1 wire of the new fiscal year.
We’ll have more on the efforts being made to resolve the rest of the still unsettled budget issues in Monday’s edition of The Daily News which goes online Friday at 4 p.m.