Council members get snippy during garbage rate fight - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Council members get snippy during garbage rate fight

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Tim Andrassy / FOX13 News Tim Andrassy / FOX13 News
DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Memphis City Council members Janis Fullilove and Shea Flinn were seen getting snippy Tuesday afternoon as they were gearing up for a fight about the city's garbage rate increase for supplemental retirement for sanitation workers.

The tiff  was just a precursor of what's to come.

It wasn't even the full pension reform issue, but it was clear battle lines are already drawn.

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Tuesday's discussion was on raising the garbage fee by $2.25. That money would be used to buy new garbage trucks and recycling carts. In exchange, the sanitation workers union agreed to take on 100 more routes.

The city thinks that could mean an annual savings of about $5 million. So the Wharton administration is proposing giving about a third of that money back to the sanitation workers. This is separate than pension reform and meant as a supplement to the sanitation workers retirement income.

Councilman Jim Strickland proposed holding off on voting on the plan until April 2014.

Some on the council didn't want to see a delay.

"Mr. Strickland, you're a great person, a good lawyer, but you're not smart," said Councilman Joe Brown.

"Bless his heart," Councilman Strickland said after the session. "Anyone who's been around the council long enough knows that Councilman Brown says some irrational things."

The council did vote to delay the measure until December.

During council as well, Councilwoman Fullilove was on fire. The Wharton administration wanted to delay handing over $1.5 million for revitalization of Southbrook Mall because it's owned by a non-profit, not the taxpayers.

The money for the project was coming from a bond issuance that is tax free, but only when used on public projects. The Wharton administration was worried that using that money on a private project could jeopardize the tax free status.

Councilwoman Fullilove, though, said it is an effort to discriminate against a project in a black neighborhood.

"We have been working on this project for two years," she said. "Because it's a black entity we've got to go through all this red tape. Something is wrong with this picture. If I could quit, and I know the mayor wishes I would, but I'm not going to do that."

The council voted in favor of funding the project despite the administration's wishes to delay.

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