From Mayor A.C. Wharton’s email on Feb. 8th:
Memphis is a city that is teeming with potential. Crime is down and great new jobs are coming in. Nevertheless, a broken business model for government keeps us from fully capitalizing on this potential. Our tax burden is the highest in Tennessee, driven by a service delivery model that is too costly, a government structure too wasteful and inefficient, and a tax base that had steadily eroded for decades as job growth stagnated in an unfriendly economic development climate.
Changing the way we do business is not simply a good idea. It is an urgent necessity. Memphis City Government is long overdue for a reckoning – an exhaustive review of the size and purpose of city government, how it is funded, how it can be made more cost-efficient and effective, and most importantly, how we plan to grow and sustain our middle class.
The Strategic Business Model Assessment Committee (SBMAC) was chartered to provide the framework for these reforms and lay out a path forward. My charge to SBMAC Chairman Doug Edwards is to deliver recommendations that are affordable, accountable, aspirational, and attainable.
Today, I am pleased to present their final report. You may click here to read it and I welcome your thoughts and feedback. These recommendations are not meant to solve all of our problems. They will, however, serve as a blueprint for the difficult work that lies ahead.
A number of political bodies, government agencies, and labor organizations must pull together so we can move forward on a new path of fiscal sustainability. We must share in the sacrifice to reach the stability that will benefit us all. All over the country, cities and states both large and small have seen their public services decimated and their taxes skyrocket because their leaders weren’t willing to make hard choices. It doesn’t have to be that way in Memphis – but we have to have a plan.
My thanks to all of the volunteers who served on the committee and to all of the city employees who contributed their time, energy, and insight to this important project. Together, we will make Memphis an outstanding city of choice for businesses and families. I know we can do it and I look forward to the work ahead.
Yours in service,
A C Wharton, Jr.
Mayor, City of Memphis