Weekly Update: Solid Waste Service Changes


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Nearly seventeen months ago, I told you how we were going to fix our issues with picking up your trash in a consistent and timely manner. And—we did it.


We reinstated Solid Waste as a division of City government. We hired more staff and bought more equipment to get the job done. And, we started picking up outside-the-cart waste twice per month.


Since May of this year, it’s been working almost like clockwork.


Initially, we did not propose a rate increase, but fully acknowledged we may well have to in the future. We wanted time to see how our new model would work and exactly what it what it would cost.


Since fully implementing the new service model, we’ve crunched the numbers, looked at all possible efficiencies, and presented our plan to council earlier this week on how we move forward. As it stands, the current rate you pay for trash service is $22.80, which is a decrease from $25.05 in 2013. To be able to fund the new service model, we requested an increase to $29.96 per month.


In a disappointing turn this past Tuesday evening, city council rejected our plan.


What does this mean for you?


Without the money to fund the new service levels, beginning January 6, 2020, there will be a dramatic reduction in solid waste services.

  • Solid Waste employees will only pick up recycling once per month.
  • Nothing outside-the-cart will be picked up.
  • A reduction in Solid Waste staff—199 full-time Solid Waste employees will lose their job and 75 temporary employees will also lose their job.

I’m never a fan of raising rates. But to maintain this new level of service, unfortunately, it’s our only option.

A bigger piece of the pie: Continuing to grow our small business and minority and women-owned businesses (MWBE) has been one of our top priorities. And for the last four years, we’ve worked intently with our Office of Business Diversity and Compliance to do so.

This week we presented our 2019 MWBE numbers to city council, and I’m pleased to say those numbers have grown. For 2019, our number rose to 21.87 percent which equates to $73.36M going to MWBE’s compared to 20.27 percent or $56.9M for 2018.

The road to economic empowerment is too long for too many in our community, but with numbers trending like this—we’re making some headway and have no intention of taking our eyes off our ultimate goal of 30 percent.

On Tom Lee Park: Great news on our Riverfront!

As you may recall, earlier this year, I asked the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP) and Memphis in May (MiM) to enter mediation to resolve their differences on how we improve Tom Lee Park. After months of hard work, the mediation between MiM and MRPP has concluded!

I’m pleased to say that this was a successful process, and I would like to thank both MiM and MRPP for their diligence as we worked to find a mutually beneficial solution. We now have a clear direction not just for the designers of the park, but also a process for review and approval by the City of Memphis and the Army Corps of Engineers before any construction can begin. 

A few key take-aways:

  1. Memphis in May will be held in Tom Lee Park in 2020. In 2021, it will be held at an alternate site to accommodate construction in the park. The festival will return to the park in 2022 and will be at home there for years to come.
  2. Riverside Drive will remain a four-lane street. We will incorporate speed-limiting designs in the final product, because we want the street to enable better access to the park.
  3. In addition to providing new amenities for citizens, the proposed renovations to Tom Lee Park will improve the infrastructure for Memphis in May.
  4. No City money from our general fund or capital improvement budget will be used — meaning that not a cent of this will impact service delivery like Police and Fire. The City is routing $10 million in sales taxes in the Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) that would otherwise have gone to the State of Tennessee. The remaining money for the park would come from Shelby County, the State of Tennessee, and private sources.

My vision is, and always has been, to craft a better Riverfront for all Memphians—one in which our citizens and the thousands of tourists who come to our city can get the full benefit of the park the other 11 months of the year. That includes an improved Tom Lee Park and a better-than-ever Memphis in May. With this compromise, I believe we’ve accomplished that.

Spread the JOY: During this giving season, our Office of Youth Services is asking individuals and businesses to contribute to help thousands of young people to get jobs through its MPLOY Youth Summer Experience program.

The Just One Youth (JOY) campaign was created for businesses to sponsor one youth this summer and for citizens to give at least $20 to assist with employing more youth in 2020. MPLOY pays the participant’s salary while government, companies, and businesses provide training and job experience for six-weeks.

Last year, 10,000 youth applied to be part of the program and the City was able to only supply jobs for 1,900 youth. This year we’re asking entities to donate to help the City fund additional jobs in 2020. It costs around $2,000 per participant. We are challenging the community to help Just One Youth and bring Joy to more youth this summer.

To donate, text Joy2020 to 91999 or make checks payable to the City of Memphis Office of Youth Services and send to Memphis City Hall Joy c\o Ike Griffith 125 N. Main St. Suite 700 Memphis, TN 38103.

For more information, visit www.cityofmemphisyouth.org.

A big day for Orange Mound: Something we’ve been working on for a long time now was bring a full-service grocery store back to Orange Mound. On Wednesday morning, we celebrated the grand opening of Superlo Foods there, and I couldn’t be happier to see it happen.


This was true team effort between our administration, Councilwoman Jamita Swearengen, Kroger, SuperLo, and most importantly, members of the Orange Mound Community.


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