September 4, 2013
At the last meeting of the City Council (August 20, 2013) they passed the smart meter resolution. There was also on the agenda an item for a resolution to approve the 2014 Street Lighting Schedule of Fees. This item was delayed until sometime in September.
Let me get this straight. This is an expense that is covered by the services paid for by property taxes. Now the City Council wants to take it out of their expense budget and bill it directly to the taxpayers through the MLGW billing process. If you will look on the back of your MLGW bill you will see that you are already being billed directly for the following.
- Sewer Fee (Memphis)
- Solid Waste Fee (Memphis)
- Storm Water Fee (Memphis)
- Mosquito/Rodent Control Fee (Shelby County)
Now they want to put a street lighting fee on your bill directly instead of raising your property taxes.
Here is what I investigated and found out.
Look at the 2012 operating budget. The City shows an actual cost of $4.3 million for street lighting in 2010 but a 2012 adopted budget of $12.1 million. Then look at the 2014 operating budget and they show an actual spending for 2012 of $6.7 million and a budget for 2014 of $6 million.
Then I went to the 2014 budget overview, pages 9 through 13. Look at page 11 you will see expenditure increases of $22 million for pensioners insurance, $16 million for salary increases and $4 million for health insurance. How are they paying for this? Part of it is $6 million transferred to you through this street lighting fee.
This is outrageous. They refuse to make the real changes that would reduce the cost of government (pension, health care, OPEB, sick day excesses, benefit reductions to match the private sector). Instead they transfer backdoor (while you aren’t looking and paying attention). It is time you get mad and let your council people know that you will not put up with this outrage. Call and email. No transfer of new charges until there is real reform of city benefits to bring them in line with the private sector.