MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton says put the boxing gloves down, there's not going to be any fight over the city's sanitation workers.
The mayor is working on a deal to buyout some of the veteran workers for early retirement, and says right now, he has no plans to let a private agency pick up the garbage.
City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove has promised to fight any plans to let a private company pick up garbage in this city because, she says, sanitation workers have a special place in this city's history.
It was Wharton's people who first brought up the idea of having a private company run the sanitation department, but some of the mayor's critics say the A C in his name stands for "Always Changing".
In this case, the mayor now says he wants to let employees help come up with ideas to cut expenses. One way is to offer them a retirement package.
The sanitation workers in Memphis are part of the city's history. But, the people who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life to support don't get any pensions.
Mayor Wharton is working on a way to give some an early retirement. He wants to trim where he can to save a buck or two, but it's a tough balancing act.
"Everybody is beginning to see each other's side," Wharton said. "I certainly share the sentiments of those who say to the degree we're in a bad situation financially it shouldn't be borne on the backs of the lowest paid employees working in the worst conditions."
Here's the real controversy. Several weeks ago, Chief Administrative Officer George Little said the city would look at the best option to save money and provide the sanitation services needed. If that meant having a private company run sanitation, so be it.
Enter City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove, who adamantly opposed the idea. "It will not happen. It will not happen," she stated.
And it might not happen, according to the mayor.
He said, "We want to give them every opportunity to show that they can become just as efficient and save as much money as somebody on the outside."
This is just one issue that is going to hit you in the wallet. The city is in bad shape financially, and between now and April, they will be looking at places to cut and save before the mayor sends his budget to the city council.