Weekly Update

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Last week, I announced our plans to seek local and state financial support that, if awarded, will allow us to dramatically improve sports tourism in Memphis and the entire region.

Since making that announcement, some have asked “why are we not planning to use that money for other things like hiring more police officers or paving more roads”.

I would like to clarify a few things on that potential financial support. The funds we are requesting from the state are one-time funding, meaning no recurring dollars will be granted to the city (i.e., public safety employee salaries). The majority of local dollars we are proposing to use can only be spent on specific items. For example, the FedExForum sales tax and county car rental tax extensions can only be spent on the FedExForum. If we are allowed to increase the hotel/motel tax, that money can only be spent on Tourism related items.

As it stands, 64 percent of the roughly $700 million city budget is allocated to public safety--$286 million to MPD (38 percent) and another $196 million to MFD (26 percent).

In addition, the citizens of Memphis in 2019 passed a tax on themselves with all of those funds being dedicated to public safety, street maintenance, and Pre-K. From those funds, we have allocated more money for public safety employee bonuses and recruiting efforts, and we recently gave the option to restore public safety employee pensions to the 1978 legacy pension plan.

We are also currently in the process of working with MPD, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Juvenile Court, Memphis Shelby County Schools, Memphis and Shelby County Crime Commission, and Youth Villages to submit an application for funding from Governor Lee’s recently announced Violent Crime Intervention Fund.

Lastly and as I wrote about in last week’s Update, we are seeking additional state government assistance to strengthen sentences for violent criminals and to help with retention and recruitment of officers.

I remind you all of this to say, we are not taking our foot off the pedal to do all that we can to keep our community safe. It’s at the forefront of everything we do. But at the same time, we cannot allow ourselves to be singularly focused. We must continue to aggressively go after opportunities that enhance the lives of our citizens. And that’s exactly what I intend to keep doing my last 14 months as your mayor.

A standing ovation: Each year, we take time to recognize those employees who go above and beyond to serve our city in what we call our Ovation Awards. We held the ceremony yesterday, and I want to give you just a few examples of the caliber of employees that serve you each and every day.

The Life Saver Award

MPD Officer Christopher L. Van Arsdale and Canine "Anthony"

In Nesbitt Park, this officer and canine responded to a request for assistance. When they arrived and entered the woods, the canine (K-9) picked up a scent that went down a path and crossed over a bridge. This prompted a search of the area where they discovered a victim. Because of the actions of the canine (K-9) the victim’s life was saved.

Detective Valerie Schwab and Detective Jasmine Holmes

During an undercover operation, officers were at the end of a dead-end street, with no escape.  These Detectives rushed into the line of fire to save the lives of their fellow officers and apprehend the four suspects who were armed and dangerous.

Volunteer of the Year  

MPD Officer Curtis Tate started a boxing class to train young boys who are struggling in school and in life using his own personal finances. Additionally, he gave one of his kidneys to save the life of another officer.

Mentor of the Year

MFD Battalion Chief Major McNeil organized the Memphis Fire Department's Fire Explorer Program for youth 14-18 years of age. He also facilitates the Memphis Fire Department's Summer Youth Medical Experience where teens ages 17-19 engage in a four-week curriculum and has inspired over 300 area teens.

I say this all the time, but our city employees are the backbone of what we do—delivering strong service to our citizens regardless of the circumstances they may face. And each day, they step up and are willing to serve in whatever capacity is needed. I am honored to serve alongside them.

Two great losses: Earlier this week, I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Rep. Barbara Cooper, a champion for Memphis causes, particularly better education. I always enjoyed visiting with her to discuss ways state government could assist us locally. This picture was taken last year as Rep. Cooper was honored as the oldest Democrat serving in any state legislature in the country. She will be missed.


In addition, Jerry Lee Lewis, a one-of-a-kind entertainer, passed away earlier today.  I so enjoy his music, especially the songs recorded at Sun Studio. No one played the piano like him. I was honored to meet him last year, and my prayers are with his family.


While these two great Memphians are no longer with us, their legacies will live long into the future.

Enjoy your weekend!


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