Weekly Update


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Though it isn’t the easiest thing to understand and can sometimes be thick with government-speak, no action at City Hall touches as many lives as the annual approval of our budget.

Like our summer youth jobs program? It’s there because it’s funded in the budget. Want a safer neighborhood? We must fill those line items in the police department. Want an improvement at a community center or a park? It must be in that thick budget book before we begin.

That’s why I’m so proud that the 2017-18 budget -- our second since I became your mayor -- was passed this week by our partners on the City Council.

This is a budget for a safer Memphis -- it funds another step in our multi-year plan to restore police staffing. This is a budget for better neighborhoods -- it opens branch libraries longer hours and paves more streets. This is a budget that’s responsive to the taxpayer -- it keeps property taxes level and continues to solidify our financial health.

Simply put, this is a budget for a stronger Memphis.

Last year, we passed the budget in seven minutes. This year, it took 46 minutes. And both times, the budget was passed on the first meeting day in June, as opposed to the delays that have often pushed us close to the June 30 deadline.

To me, this is a testament that when we work together and are open to compromise, we can move Memphis forward in a way that fosters faith in government -- as opposed to the fierce battles of years past that only serve to drive wedges between us.

That the passage of the city budget didn’t even make the front page of the paper speaks to just how little conflict there really was. I give credit to our staff -- particularly Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen and Chief Financial Officer Brian Collins. And I give credit to the 13 members of the City Council -- particularly Chairman Berlin Boyd and Budget Committee Chairman Edmund Ford Jr.

Recovering from the storm: Earlier this week, MLGW and contractor crews restored power to the last remaining customers from the third-largest power outage in Shelby County history. I hope you’ll join me in saying thank you to them for all the long, hard hours they put in to restore power.

I also can’t say thank you enough to our staff members. From Police to Fire to Public Works and to General Services -- the division that’s home to many of our unsung heroes who provide support to the more visible employees -- I say, simply, thank you.

Making Memphis a better place to work: You probably know by now that we came into office listening to our employees about how working at the City of Memphis could be better. We’ve done plenty in that regard -- such as with salary increases, the restoration of pre-65 retiree health care subsidy, and a new police rank. Another step came this week, and it’s innovative: We announced a program to add student loan repayment assistance to our benefits package.

Memphis is the first city in the country to offer such a benefit, and Thursday’s news of the rollout earned us a fair amount of national press. (Check us out in Time and CNN Money.) I thank Alex Smith, our Chief Human Resources Officer, for being innovative and forward-thinking about how we can make the City of Memphis a premier place to advance a career.

Visit our libraries: Our Memphis Public Library & Information Center locations started their new, increased hours late last month. To learn more about the branch near you, click here. This doesn’t just add an extra hour here and there; it actually opens many neighborhood branches on Fridays for the first time in years.

Get the latest on 3.0: You'll hear more about this in the coming days, but mark your calendar to attend one of the three upcoming Memphis 3.0 meetings: June 22 at the Stax Museum, 926 E. McLemore; June 27 at Ballet Memphis, 7950 Trinity Road; and June 29 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar. Each meeting will last from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

At this round of meetings, the Memphis 3.0 comprehensive planning team will present on its key findings to date and moderate a Q&A so you can learn more about where the process stands. As always, you can learn more about Memphis 3.0 at its website.

Congratulations: A quick nod to our Division of Housing & Community Development, which recently won national praise from Neighborhoods USA for its newsletter.

Eyes on Memphis: We have so many great amenities and events in Memphis that it’s easy to take them for granted. So I wanted to quickly recognize and say thank you to all involved in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Memphis’ home on the professional golf tour for sixty years now. CBS will be broadcasting live from our city this weekend, providing valuable publicity not just for us and not just for our largest employer -- but for the great work being done at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

It's hard to beat that.

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