Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Bookmark and Share


A quick start: Today is National Employee Appreciation Day, so I wanted to lead today’s update by saying how much I appreciate our dedicated City of Memphis employees. They’re the backbone of what makes this city great, and I appreciate them.

A big step for MATA: A few weeks ago, you probably heard about the Memphis Area Transit Authority’s presentation to the City Council, in which MATA painted a bleak financial picture. Simply put, MATA said it needed more city money or it would have to drastically reduce service.

Nobody wants that. And while the city doesn’t have a lot of extra money to throw around, we have continued our ongoing work with MATA to try to find every solution possible to ensure our city has a robust transportation system for all of its citizens. Memphis deserves that.

On Thursday, we announced a big step in that direction: MATA will roll out its Short Range Transit Plan by the end of the year. It will streamline routes, add express service and make the system easier to understand and navigate -- all without significantly increasing operating costs.

It’s a pledge I made to you in the campaign -- but more importantly, it’s a good thing for Memphians.

Thinking ahead for a moment, know this: Our team continues to work hard to examine financial avenues that will sustain MATA’s health for the long run. We know that a potential fee to citizens has been discussed in the media, but that’s way too premature. Many options are being studied by our staff, and to tell the truth, I’m not a big fan of fees.

We’ll continue to work on this together, in full concert with Ron Garrison and his staff at MATA.

Speaking of finances: You may have seen media reports Tuesday that dealt with a presentation I made to the City Council about upcoming capital improvement needs. In a nutshell, these are commitments and obligations that I have found out about in the 64 days since taking the oath of office as your mayor.

The need for new radios for city divisions that use them -- mostly police and fire -- is a big one. It’s $60 million, and their obsolescence and new regulations give us no choice. We must complete that in three years -- a relatively short amount of time to spread out that much money.

It means that our capital improvement budget will be severely strained in the next few years to deal with things like paving streets. I pledge to you to deliver a city government that is brilliant at the basics, and I will continue to divert every dollar I can toward those needs. But it won’t be easy.

And just so you know, the capital improvement program (CIP) budget is not our operating budget. We issue debt to pay on CIP needs and pay on that debt annually. Think of it this way: the CIP budget is the full price of your house, and the operating budget is your monthly mortgage payment.

About the Zoo/Greensward: When this issue came to a head in January, I proposed mediation to bring both sides toward a long-term solution. Legal action and City Council action followed, shifting the playing field a bit and garnering much attention.

But there remains one constant -- the mediation that I set forth in January.  And I’m proud to report that mediation continues with a session set for Tuesday. With all parties at the table, we will work to find solutions to all of the parking/use issues that exist at Overton Park.

We’re glad you’re here: If you see groups from the University of Florida, Baylor University, Iowa State University and our very own University of Memphis and LeMoyne-Owen College doing service projects in town in the next few weeks, be sure to say hi. I’m grateful for their work in our city.

One last thing: Ursula Madden, my chief communications officer, spoke at a luncheon with the Women’s Associate Resource Group of ServiceMaster this week. She had a great time, and we’re glad she had the opportunity to talk about leadership.

Ursula at ServiceMaster


Mayor's signature