Friday, April 29, 2005

Street Talk: Hooks says "revenue problem," history says otherwise

Memphis Business Journal [Link]
By Scott Shephard

At last week's City Council meeting where the mayor presented his 2006 budget, City Councilman Janet Hooks repeated her assertion -- just as she did when her payroll tax was defeated in November -- that the city "did not have a spending problem, it has a revenue problem."

With respect to Hooks, history suggests otherwise.

In 1992 when Mayor Willie Herenton took office, the City of Memphis' operating budget was $252 million. In 2003 the budget was $461 million -- an increase of 83%.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index (CPI inflation rate) for this period was 31%, indicating that spending was growing at more than twice the inflation rate.

The 2005 adopted budget is $495 million, a 96% increase from 1992.

City records contain some other telling statistics:

The property tax income to the city in 1992 for the operating budget was $77 million. The 2003 property tax income was $147 million -- an increase of 90%.

So, Memphis must have grown considerably during this 11-year stretch, right?

Not so much.

The city's population grew by a scant 7% during this time frame, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Apparently, many of those new residents were getting jobs with the city.

The total city employment in 1993 was just over 6,000 people. The city employment in 2005 is proposed to be more than 7,100, up 19%.

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