Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category
May 20, 2013
I was very saddened to hear about his sudden death. He was the essence of what America stands for. He was energetic, smart, innovative, charming and a producer, not a taker. Although not a graduate engineer, he was an engineer in fact, a guy who knew how to solve problems and think outside the box. He was tremendously creative in all fields.
After his service on the County Commission, he came up with a proposed financial solution to the public money problems we are now seeing in both the City and the County. I have attached a copy of that proposal. Basically the plan instituted a 3% Privilege Payroll Tax that would reduce property taxes by 25% and sales taxes from 9-1/4% to 7%. Naturally the proposal was dismissed by local politicians as not worthy of debate.
I want to extend my sympathy to his wife, children and extended family. However congratulations to John for a life well lived and a tremendous contribution to what makes America unique and great.
May 13, 2013
Health care costs at the City of Memphis, Shelby County and MLGW are very expensive. Shelby County has been fiscally responsible in the past and their situation is much better than the City of Memphis. MLGW’s health care benefits are much richer and more expensive but they have the income from your utility bills to pay the tab. The City of Memphis is the worst. Active employees’ and retirees’ share of the cost is not fully funded to the 30% level as they are supposed to be. Also the City’s OPEB fund for retiree health care is an empty bucket to the tune of $1.2 billion dollars unfunded liability.
April 29, 2013
I heard City Councilman Jim Strickland recently talking about the upcoming budget hearings. He is chairman of the budget committee. He has a tough job as it is difficult to get seven votes to pass any significant cuts.
His suggestion seems to be to put the budget beast on a diet. In other words, the County Assessor has predicted that the new property tax assessments will be down 4-1/2%. Jim wants to let the pot of property tax money fall by this amount which would mean a reduction of about 3-1/4%. The Mayor, on the other hand, wants to increase property taxes rates by 28 cents or 9%. Faced with those (more…)
April 23, 2013
This FY2014 budget is a balanced budget that can also essentially be termed as a “continuation budget” in the sense that the level of services provided for in the FY2013 budget are essentially the same.
April 15, 2013
Hurry and write those checks and get them into the post office. Also more good news, the City Council and the County Commission start budget discussions. I have looked at the proposed 2014 County budget and compared it to the 2009 adopted budget. The 2009 adopted budget (countywide total) was $1.12 billion. The 2014 proposed budget is $1.17 billion.
The county up until the recent last few years has done a good fiscal job compared to the City of Memphis. The real problems are down at City Hall. However, I do not like the trends I see on the current County Commission which is looking more like the City Council.
Looking at the expenditures, it is obvious that the main items are personnel and education.
Let’s start with personnel. This is the real areas of possible savings. However, can seven votes be garnered to cut salaries and benefits? The figures show that the average city and county salaries and benefits are 50 to 60 percent greater than the average (more…)
March 25, 2013
Last Friday I participated in the WKNO’s Behind The Headlines show moderated by Eric Barnes (WKNO), Kemp Conrad (City Council) and Bill Dries, Daily News reporter.
The subject was local pensions, principally those for Memphis, Shelby County and the MLGW. We discussed the definition of pensions which really includes the promises made to retiring employees. These promises include not only the normal pension payment (a (more…)
March 18, 2013
There is another Pilot approval in the works. This time it is for TJX Companies, Inc. The EDGE board (Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County) will meet next Wednesday (March 20th) at 3 PM at Memphis Bioworks, 20 S. Dudley.
As usual, EDGE calculated that the return will be $1.23 dollars of return for each dollar of taxes abated. In October 2012, Mr. Dulberger and others appeared on the WKNO show (Behind The Headlines http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-kcnmFdLLM). During the show he said that past Pilots returned $1.87 for each one dollar of tax abatement. I have yet to see a Pilot application that did not claim to return more in the future for taxes abated now. Yet when you look at the financial crisis we have locally, particularly at the City, you have to ask “Where is the beef?. If the Pilots granted returned what they promised, we should be rolling in a flood of green.
February 20, 2013
I have been investigating the school consolidation deficit debacle. There have been newspaper articles reporting the new combined deficit of anywhere from $80 million to $180 million dollars.
Now here are some interesting tidbits that I dug up.
Look at the bureaucracy at the two systems. Who is losing their jobs with the combination? This is just a small example of the (more…)
February 11, 2013
When the school consolidation vote passed I went to the first few meetings of the transition board. They regularly met at each meeting for 5 hours or more and they met often. The seats were as hard as high grade steel so I stopped going.
Now I read that the proposed new consolidated school system has an $80 to $90 million dollar looming budget deficit. How could this happen?
Before the vote to give up the City School Charter, the Memphis City School 2011 actual budget was in balance ($1.175 billion). The Shelby County School actual budget ran a small deficit.
Now I read in the CA article that the preliminary general fund budget for the new unified school district is $80 to $90 million dollars in the red.
You smart people out there please help me out. We voted to combine the two school systems and supposedly to come up with a more efficient, fair, more intelligent new school system by doing away with duplicate jobs, outsourcing services, reforming retiree health care and having one superintendent with one staff. However, with all these savings, we still cannot balance the budget.
People, something stinks here and I would like an explanation. We have to start educating the students in the basics; math, reading, history, science and needed trades. All the other stuff is nice and if we can afford it should be added. However let us get back to the basics so that 2+1=2.75.
February 7, 2013
Congratulations to Mayor Wharton and his new website revisions. Here is one example. He has posted the salaries, job titles, service centers, divisions and estimated benefits of all city employees. While this is good and needed information, it raises several questions. I have posted all city employees from highest salaries to lowest.
- On the face of it, some salaries seem high and some seem low. It should depend on the skill level needed to do the job.
- The average City of Memphis salary is $48,554 for all 6979 employees listed. There are 4451 employees above the average salary and 2528 below the average salary. The average salary for those above the total average is $55,923. The average for those below the total average is $35,599.
- Has the City done a comparable salary and benefit comparison with comparable private sector jobs?
According to the latest Memphis CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) report the per capita personal income for Memphis is $37,569., 5.5% above the bottom group average of city employees. The top average City of Memphis employee group is 48% above (more…)