(6:16 p.m. See below for update to this post)
The Memphis City Council’s Personnel, Intergovernmental and Annexation Committee is holding a special meeting tomorrow at 4:30.
One item is on the agenda. – “An Ordinance to extend the boundaries of the City Limits of the City of Memphis by annexing the Gray’s Creek Annexation Area and assigning said area to a Council District.”
That didn’t take long. It’s in response to bills filed in Nashville in recent days that would limit future annexations of Memphis by taking away parts of the city’s annexation reserve area.
There are a few things to keep in mind. That area is important to the ongoing schools debate, because all five of the plans for municipal school districts built around Shelby County’s suburban towns and cities include some use of the city of Memphis annexation reserve areas or unincorporated rural areas.
I would also point out, though, that Memphis has not lost a battle – at least, on the legal front – to any annexation efforts in recent memory.
Some city officials have already spoken to reporters about the newest bills with comments that harken back to one of Mayor Wharton’s widely-circulated lines from last year: “When people in Memphis do things that the gods in Nashville don’t like, they change the rules.”
Late Monday, Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr. and City Council Chairman Bill Morrison issued a joint statement:
“On the evening when Governor Bill Haslam prepares to give his State of the State, we find ourselves deeply troubled by several state proposals that would stifle Memphis’ ability to grow.
Based on the 1998 growth plan agreement, which cemented the growth areas of all the municipalities in Shelby County and was approved by the state legislature, the City of Memphis has already begun investing resources in this east Shelby County area, including an $80 million sewer project and other basic services such as fire protection.
These proposals, put forth without even a courtesy call to local government, single out the City of Memphis at a time when other municipalities have recently used the same 1998 agreement – without argument or interference – to annex their reserve areas. It’s a move that smacks of racism, classism, and schoolyard bullying.
Last year, we saw these same legislators try to leapfrog over the will of our citizens to surrender the charter of Memphis City Schools and to establish a unified Shelby County school system.
This is a continued all-out assault on Memphis and its right to govern itself. We are calling upon all of our local leaders – whether they be leaders in politics, business, or the philanthropic arena – and the residents of Memphis to let their state representatives know that this will not stand.
If need be, we will meet this challenge in court.”