Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Good Bye And Good Riddance

In this story in the Commercial Appeal, Michael Erskine reports on the final County Commission meeting under the old regime. The below-the-fold, Metro Page One story would seem run of the mill, but one very interesting bit is glossed over before the jump and the other unbelievable bit is buried deep into the latter part of the story.

First, outgoing Commissioner Tommy Hart got a resolution that will significantly alter property tax freezes for commercial properties.
The commission also passed a proposal by Hart to amend the
Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board
charter. The change authorizes a "community reinvestment
credit" for businesses that relocate to an existing building and
seek a tax freeze.

If passed by the City Council as well, the change would allow the
IDB to give businesses better incentives for moving into existing
buildings when relocating rather than erecting a new building.

Mayors Jim Rout and Willie Herenton had asked that the
resolution be delayed for more discussion.
Yeah! The Memphis Flyer's John Branston has reported some on how downtown properties will soon become "unfrozen" and will begin to trickle in some extra tax monies. Hart's resolution may allow some to escape. It needs more airing and discussion.

But the real kicker was this:
At the tail end of the meeting, budget chairman Cleo Kirk
proposed an add-on to the agenda to give a 3 percent pay raise
to certain elected county officials. He said the matter was
"inadvertently" left out of the budget document.

"We had them in there," he said, adding that these elected
officials last year received a pay raise from the commission equal
to what county employees received.

The resolution would have given raises to the elected clerks, the
register, assessor, sheriff, trustee and others.

The increase would not have affected the salaries of the mayor,
commissioners or school board members.

But commissioners, who had just raised insurance premiums for
some retirees, quickly rejected hearing the proposal.
After last month's flap, which Erskine doesn't mention, where the Commission was criticized for raising the salaries of some aides and assistants by as much as 15 percent, when other County employees had to make do with only 3, it just goes to show how completely disconnected some Commissioners can be. See how they try to sneak it past? And justify it as "inadvertent?"

Hopefully, the next Commission will keep Kirk's yap shut.

Until next time,
Your Working Boy

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