Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update

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I'll be clear from the start: Most of you will receive a tax increase if the de-annexation bill that’s currently working through the state legislature passes. And that’s true not only for Memphians -- it’s true if you live in Collierville, or Germantown, or just about anywhere else in Shelby County.

Let’s review what’s going on here. A couple of weeks ago, we learned of some far-reaching impacts the bill could have, such as the loss of nearly $80 million in annual tax revenue and some 111,228 residents from our city. Naturally, that grabbed our attention. To say that would lead to financial calamity is an understatement.

Much to my disappointment, the state House voted Monday in favor of the bill. So now, our attention turns to the Senate. I spent Wednesday in Nashville meeting one-on-one with senators, telling them about the harmful effects the bill could have on Memphis. With the information our team shared and the conversations we had, I’m hopeful that more and more legislators are understanding the bill’s implications.

We spelled out much of our argument in last week's email, but it bears a closer look.

In Memphis, the savings we could realize from not having to service de-annexed areas would be small compared to the tax losses. And let’s not forget this: Our annual pension funding amount, easily the single largest pressure point in the city budget today, wouldn’t change a cent even if we lost all the tax revenue.

Outside of Memphis, the transition of current pieces of city territory into unincorporated county territory would add costs to Shelby County’s budget. Think of the additional number of officers and equipment the sheriff would need, for instance. Thus, an almost certain tax increase for all of us in the county.

It’s easy to get lost in this argument as an arcane battle of governments over dollar figures that are hard to comprehend. I understand that. But think of this: With all of the momentum Memphis has, and with new city leadership committed to disciplined, responsible stewardship, why should the General Assembly disrupt those good things to willingly push Memphis -- both the city and the greater region -- toward uncertainty?

This is not fear-mongering. These are not scare tactics. These are the very high stakes, and this is why I’m fighting so hard to make sure Memphis’ momentum isn’t derailed. The number of questions I received about this bill at a speaking engagement Thursday night tells me Memphians understand the stakes, too.

The bill is scheduled for a Senate vote Monday. If you’re inclined to reach out to senators about this bill, you can find their contact information here.

A few things worth knowing: There was plenty of good news in Memphis this week; I didn’t want you to miss it. First off, Money Magazine ranked the top domestic travel destinations this year, and here were their top three: 1) San Diego, 2) New York City, and 3) Memphis!

Also, congratulations to our friends at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, which this week received Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center -- a status only seven percent of hospitals in the country receive.

We have so much good going on in Memphis.

Tackling blight: We’re fortunate to have Steve Barlow and Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., in Memphis doing the hard work of combatting blight. This week, thanks to a dedicated committee of volunteers who work in the anti-blight space in Memphis, they unveiled the Memphis Blight Elimination Charter. It’s a guiding document that will coordinate all of the energy and effort spent in combatting blight in our city.

To me, this represents the best of Memphis: Smart, dedicated people coming together to solve a big problem -- instead of just complaining about it. And when so often we have efforts in silos and groups not working together, this is an example of coordinated planning where everyone is on the same page.

I hope to bring more and more of that to city government in the coming months and years.

Making Memphis more walkable: This morning at City Hall, a group of volunteers gathered to survey nearby sidewalks using the Memphis Walkability Toolkit. It was part of a promise I made in the first 100 days -- using and promoting the toolkit as a launching pad to ensure our city is safer for and more accessible to pedestrians. Learn more about the Walkability Toolkit here.

Don’t forget: We’ll hold the first fundraiser for the Better Memphis Fund, which will pay expungement fees for qualified candidates, Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Hattiloo Theatre. Hope to see you there.


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