Weekly Update


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Few investments could mean more to the future of Memphis than ensuring that all of our children can enroll in pre-Kindergarten. It's a cause I was proud to lead on the City Council, and it's a cause that I'm proud to be involved in now as your mayor.

You may have noticed in today's newspaper that a new funding effort is being discussed. We've been involved in those discussions, and continue to be. There are many more technical details to work out, which is why we haven't said much about it until now. But I ask you to stay tuned as we work toward realizing this great opportunity.

To the mailbag: Every so often, we like to take some of the more common questions we get, either in person or in email, and answer them. So let’s go straight to today’s “mailbag”:

Why wouldn’t you revive the Coliseum? It would cost $40 million in one-time money just to bring it back. That’s out of a $160 million total project, funded by Tourism Development Zone dollars. I decided I would rather spend that money on assets that can be used by the neighborhoods and surrounding community. Our administration is reinvesting in the core of our city, and this is just another example.

Even if we revived the Coliseum, it would most likely run at a deficit of thousands of dollars every year. That money would come from our general fund, which is money we prioritize for basic services like police and fire. I was not willing to do that, and I’m thinking you aren’t, either.

Budgeting is about choices — just like your own budget. It’s easy to want to travel to some exotic location, for instance. But it’s harder to weigh that desire against your bills, or some repair you need to make on your house, or getting a reliable car when your old one finally breaks down. Same thing here. This is one of the holes in civic debate, particularly in our current political climate: Advocates of a specific cause don’t weigh that cause against other needs. But I must.

But why are you spending all this money on a sports complex at the Fairgrounds, when we need more police officers? This complex would be funded by a TDZ — meaning, the sales tax dollars created by the project go to pay for the project. These dollars would not exist without the project itself.

This is different than the general fund, which is largely funded by your property taxes.

Also, funding is not our issue when it comes to more police officers. We can pay their salaries. We are largely dealing with a lack of recruiting between 2012 and 2015, and, given the necessarily long time it takes to move new recruits through the academy, it won’t rebuild overnight. But, we are making progress: Large classes combined with reduced attrition means 2017 appears to be the first year in seven years in which we’ll have a net gain of officers.

How come you’re focusing on moving statues and not focusing on crime? Don’t think that we’re only focusing on what the news chooses to do a story on that night. We focus on dozens of things every single week at City Hall.

Our No. 1 focus? Reducing violent crime. Plain and simple. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other important things we’re working on. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Strengthening our infrastructure: We broke ground Thursday on a multi-million-dollar set of improvements to the T.E. Maxson Wastewater Treatment Facility, which serves the southern half of our city. These are proactive improvements and more evidence of our commitment to infrastructure.

Come get some mulch: The always-popular free mulch giveaway is this weekend. Beginning Saturday morning at sunrise, the mulch will be available at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium parking lot area at 315 S. Hollywood St. This is self-service — residents must load their own mulch.

The mulch comes from more than 25,000 tons of trees and branches our Public Works crews collected in the past year.

Great to drop by: I’ve always admired the work of Ernest Withers, and meeting him in his studio a decade ago remains a fond memory. So Melyne and I were so thrilled to drop by the Withers Collection Museum & Gallery this week — and we encourage you to do the same.

Visiting the Withers Museum

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