Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update

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Our administration spent much of the past week researching and speaking out against a proposed deannexation bill in the Tennessee legislature. You probably saw the media coverage that started Wednesday afternoon.

Yes, the issue is complicated. But in many ways, the bill's potential effects are fairly simple to understand.

So let me spell those out for you here:

  • If the bill passes, any areas annexed after 1998 could deannex themselves from the city with a simple majority vote. For us, the biggest areas are Hickory Hill and parts of Cordova. You can clearly see the impact in this map:

Deannexation map

  • If all of these areas leave, Memphis would lose about $79 million in tax revenue. That’s about 12 percent of our budget.
  • It’s logical to think we would save money on expenses in step with the tax losses, but it just isn’t true. Our services aren’t as geographically distributed, cost-wise, as you might think. Or, take the pension fund: We’d still have to fully fund it at the same level even if our boundaries change.
  • In the short term, it would be very difficult to avoid a property tax increase to help cover that lost revenue -- remember, it’s already a challenge just to balance our budget with current revenue. (It would almost certainly lead to tax increases for our friends in the suburbs, too, as the county would have to take on services in the newly deannexed areas.)

Remember: I remain open to changing the size of Memphis’ footprint. It’s a worthy conversation to have -- but only with all stakeholders involved, and not as part of a messy financial crisis.

The bill is due for a vote in the House Monday. This is our largest legislative priority, and I will continue to update you in the coming days and weeks.

Thanks, IBM: This morning, IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge team presented its findings and recommendations after spending three weeks in Memphis studying Memphis Fire’s Emergency Medical Services. Specifically, they studied how to reduce non-emergency calls while also improving health care processes and outcomes for our citizens.

The team's set of recommendations is thorough and deserves pursuit. To that end, I announced today that Fire Director Gina Sweat and I will lead a steering committee to help implement these recommendations. Many of the stakeholders involved have volunteered to be on this committee, which tells me we have real momentum to make Memphis a national pioneer in dealing with these issues.

We’re so thankful to IBM for its hard work these past three weeks. And yes, I asked -- the team ate quite a bit of barbecue while in Memphis.

Congratulations, Andrea: I’ll take just a moment to recognize one of our employees, Andrea Slaughter, who works in the Human Resources Division. She received a $10,000 scholarship to Western Governors University as the result of an essay she wrote on the importance of continuing her education. She learned that during an event at City Hall this afternoon. We’re proud of Andrea and wish her the very best.

Speaking of our employees: You may have seen media coverage earlier in the week about a pair of survey results we recently received. Our HR department will use this information on salaries and employee engagement as we continue to work on ways to improve the relationship between employees and the city.

Beyond just the results, I hope you’ll take this away: We’re making a concerted effort to listen, communicate, and learn.

Free health fair Saturday: Healthy Tennessee is sponsoring a health fair Saturday starting at 11 a.m. at Raleigh Assembly of God, 3683 Austin Peay Highway. There will be free health screenings with physicians on site.

Visit for more information.

It isn’t all tough stuff: On Thursday afternoon, quite literally in between meetings with staff members about the deannexation bill, I was lucky to experience a first for me.

I performed a wedding ceremony.

Hong Wang and Mingming Niu called my office weeks ago, and they said they wanted to get married by the mayor. We were happy to agree. So in my office, I walked them through their vows, asked them to exchange rings, and, by the power vested in me, pronounced them husband and wife.

Wedding Ceremony

Congratulations to the happy couple.

And in the midst of all the very real and difficult issues that face us, the wedding was a fun reminder of why I remain so very honored to be your mayor.


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