Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update

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It hardly feels like summer, but the staff in our Office of Youth Services, led by my Special Assistant for Youth, Ike Griffith, has been hard at work making the city’s summer youth jobs program happen. And since Ike is in Washington, D.C. today for a White House-led conference on cities’ summer programs, I thought it was a good time to highlight what we’re doing there.

A week ago today, we held a computerized lottery to determine the combined 1,256 slots for our two youth programs: the MPLOY Summer Youth Experience and the ongoing Memphis Ambassadors Program (MAP). Currently, 184 students are participating in MAP's year-long enrichment program. Both programs offer great opportunities to young people beyond just the work and paycheck, and past participants tell me just how beneficial it’s been to their lives.

We had more than 5,000 applicants, meaning that far from everyone who wanted a spot got one. That’s one of the challenges moving forward -- we’ve got to widen the availability of these programs.

More than 90 local businesses signed up with MPLOY as partners. For that, we thank them. You’ll hear more from me on the summer programs when the weather gets warmer.

Ike, meanwhile, is reading today’s update from Washington. The White House’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs sponsored a Summer Opportunities Workshop, a day of programming that will be attended by both the secretaries of Education and Labor. We know Ike will be sharing what we’re doing in Memphis, as well as learning what other cities are doing to help us make future summers even better.

You’ve heard me say how we have to intervene in the lives of young people. This is just a small portion of an effort that should grow in the coming months and years.

Welcome, IBM: On Monday, I welcomed the team from IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge to Memphis, and we’re so glad they’re here. Long story short: They’re studying ways to reduce non-emergency calls to 911 while also providing better healthcare options to those who often make those calls. Smarter Cities Challenge services are provided to cities at no cost, and we were fortunate to grab one of the worldwide grants last year.

IBM Welcoming

You’ll be hearing much more about this in the coming weeks. The IBM team will present its findings at an event on Friday, March 11, at 10 a.m. at Memphis Bioworks, 20 Dudley Street. You can register for that event here.

The choices ahead: I’m working closely with my staff in advance of April 19, when I will present our 2016-17 budget proposal. We’re also having regular conversations with City Council members in advance of the proposal, and I’m looking forward to a collaborative effort with them in advance of the budget’s final approval.

We have a handful of choices ahead of us, and I’d like to briefly highlight one in each of the next few updates. Today, let’s touch on a familiar topic -- pensions.

The actuaries say we should put $58 million in the pension fund this upcoming budget, which isn’t dramatically more than the $50 million we put in this year. But once we fund it at 100 percent of what the actuaries recommend, we must fund it at 100 percent every year after that, even in advance of the state law-mandated 2020 deadline to do that.

And next year, the experts are likely to say that number is more than $65 million, meaning that a decision to go to $58 million this upcoming year locks us in to more than $65 million the year after that.

Yet, the sooner we can fully fund our pension, the healthier it is down the road.

It’s one of many moving parts you’ll hear more about in the coming weeks.

A busy week: This eighth week as your mayor has been busy as they all are, but I thought you’d like to hear of a couple of people I was fortunate to meet: Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations; and Kobe Bryant, the retiring Los Angeles Lakers player, whose final game in Memphis was Wednesday night.

In full support: Our friends down the street at the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau have put together an impressive package in pursuit of the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament beginning next year. It would be played at AutoZone Park, and could bring thousands of fans to town for almost a full week in May. We should know more in the next few months.

And finally: Y’all know I’m a big basketball fan, so I mean it when I say good luck to the local teams still alive in the state playoffs. I dropped in on the District 16-AAA tournament championship game last Saturday night at Melrose between two great teams -- East and White Station.

Mayor at Melrose


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