MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Memphis City Council starts debating the city budget this weekend. Mayor A C Wharton wants to raise your property taxes by 47 cents. One promised money maker for the city, the crackdown on parking tickets and collections, has been a failure, not bringing in the money expected.
Last year at this time there was talk about putting boots on the cars of people who had a lot of unpaid parking tickets. There was talk of tow trucks plowing through the streets picking up illegally parked cars.
The money, big money, was supposed to flow like wine. All of those things are happening, except for the money.
Memphis has an official name; it's called "the city of good abode," but nobody calls it that.
It's the city of good and bad, the city that works when it feels like it, the city that doesn't sleep, except at city council meetings. It's also the city that needs money, more than $40 million in the hole right now.
Mayor Wharton saw dollar signs with all the illegally parked cars, thinking they might pump a lot of motorists' money into the city.
But according to the city's Chief Administrative Officer, George Little, "Where we really have not met our expectations have been from the collections from the outstanding moving violations and parking tickets. That's been slow to get off the ground."
City figures show they got about $5 million less than projected. City Court Clerk Tom Long denies there are any troubles, and says the program is moving fine after a few delays at the beginning.
"They are booting and they are towing, and we've had some individuals who've not been pleased when either booted or towed. But that is moving forward," Little stated.
It's going to get easier and tougher at the same time for those who want to let their tires take a break at the curb.
Little stated, "We're going to be coming forward here in a couple of months with a request for proposals to upgrade and modernize our parking meters. While it might add to the revenue from the city, what it will also do is help create a more vibrant downtown where you can get a parking space when you need it."
I talked with Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland, who is in charge of the budget committee. They start discussions this weekend, and Strickland says they'll be looking at what happened here, and they'll want to know why the money didn't fall like rain from up above.