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Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update: March 22, 2019
Weekly Update: Public safety pay increases, paving starts, jobs news
Posted on 03/22/2019

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Strengthening public safety has been a priority of ours since the very first day we arrived at City Hall, and our actions have demonstrated that.

I’m proud of yet another action that we announced this week: In our upcoming budget proposal, we’ll propose a 3 percent pay increase for all commissioned Fire and Police employees.

It’s the right thing to do for the men and women who quite literally put their lives on the line every day.

Employee pay has been a hot-button issue at City Hall for years — but particularly in the last decade, as our financial limitations have become more acute. Between 2010 and 2015, City employees did not get a single cent in pay increases — and, in fact, endured a painful 4.6 percent pay cut from 2011 to 2013.

When we took office, we knew just how much this impacted morale and, frankly, our staffing levels. So with public safety in particular, we’ve worked to address this — and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve partnered with the City Council to accomplish, thanks to improving revenues, fiscal discipline, and some private donors.

If our proposal is passed by the City Council, here’s what we’ll have been able to do since 2016:

  • Commissioned police officers with 11 or fewer years of service will have received a total of 8.75 percent in pay increases, a $500 bonus and retention bonuses ranging from $6,400 to $7,000.
  • Commissioned police officers with 12 years or more will have received a total of 10.75 percent in pay increases and a $2,100 bonus.
  • Commissioned firefighters and fire operators will have received a total of 9 percent in pay increases and a $500 bonus.

Would I like to do more? You bet. Would I like to go beyond just public safety employees? Absolutely. But here’s the reality: Our budget only increases by about $10 million each year. The pay increases we propose will eat up the vast majority of that — which I think sends a strong message of just how big of a priority public safety pay is.

Good jobs news: We tell you over and over in this space about how our economy has been adding jobs, but it never hurts to have someone from outside of Memphis take note, too. That came this week from Bloomberg, which crunched the federal jobs numbers and found that the Memphis metro area was the No. 1 metro area for job growth last year when compared to its 10-year average. Yes, that means we were ahead of such metro areas like Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Nashville, and Seattle.

Even more, the Greater Memphis Chamber’s study of jobs data showed that the metro area added 13,500 jobs in 2018 alone, according to the Daily Memphian.

It’s a snapshot in time and there’s plenty more work ahead, sure. But we must acknowledge good news when we see it.

Paving has started: The calendar officially turned from winter to spring this week. To us, there's another welcome turn: from pothole season to paving season.

You know that we’ve doubled paving funds from just a few years ago, and now that the weather’s warming, you’ll start to see even more of that in action. Contractor crews were milling sections of Yale Road and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard this week, and also starting preliminary improvements to Riverdale Road in anticipation of full asphalt work in the coming days and weeks.

We’ve worked this winter to improve our processes so that we maximize the amount of paving we can do this calendar year. It will be a big help to clear the backlog we’re experiencing due to years of underfunding, and a big leap forward in our quest for smoother streets.

Sending our prayers: You probably saw this week where Lt. Myron Fair, a dedicated 25-year veteran of the Memphis Police Department, died in a car crash. Simply put, it was a somber reminder of how precious life is, and how it can change in an instant.

I ask each and every Memphian to join me in praying for Lt. Fair's family and the entire MPD family in this difficult time.

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Each Friday, Mayor Jim Strickland sends his Weekly Update email. It's a recap of events from the week, a celebration of Memphis' successes, and a frank look at our challenges. To receive the Weekly Update in your inbox, sign up here.

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