MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mayor Jim Strickland plans to spend more money in his first budget — $9 million more. However, he said it won’t cost you anything extra and he doesn’t plan to raise taxes because he said there’s an increase in revenue.
He hopes to take a chunk of that money and put it into public safety like giving police officers and firefighters raises.
The mayor took the podium Tuesday afternoon in front of the City Council and went over his proposed $667 million budget.
He wants to put $54 million into the pension to get up the city’s ARC required by state law. He also wants to spend $6 million to repave streets.
The mayor’s plan also includes an additional $7.5 million for MATA.
MATA has previously said they needed millions of dollars just to stay operational.
Back in February, MLGW President Ron Garrison said he needed $12 million to help his crumbling system, but after the presentation, he was positive about the proposal.
“This is a good, solid budget for MATA, and there’s a lot we can do with it,” said Garrison.
Garrison was emphatic the numbers proposed by Strickland are good. He said over the last few months he’s worked closely with Strickland’s office to figure out how to increase funding by getting money from other sources as well. $2.5 million has been proposed for MATA operating funds and $5 million for capital funding, which Garrison said will go toward buses, which are desperately needed.
“The buses — that’s 100 percent local. So that means we can buy like 11/12 buses, that’s a huge home run. We don’t have to wait for federal money to go with it.”
Garrison said MATA needs to rebuild, and this is a solid start.
Advocates for riders think MATA should get more money.
“It’s a start but still a long ways off,” said Sammie Hunter.
They’re happy more money could go to buses but want more operating dollars, and they’re going to keep having their voices heard.
“Fight to let them know we’re not satisfied, but we can deal with it for a moment so we’re just gonna keep pushin’,” said Cynthia Bailey.
Advocates said they plan to meet with council members to hopefully convince them they need more money.
Council will start their discussions a week from today. They have until June to approve a budget.
Strickland told us he expects them to make changes but hopes they work with him as well.