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Week That Was: City Budget, Beale Security, ServiceMaster

A quick look at a few top stories of the week.

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New Budget Gives Pay Raises

All Memphis city employees will get pay raises this year, and the city tax rate will hold steady thanks to last week's passage of a nearly $667 million budget by the Memphis City Council. 

Mayor Jim Strickland proposed his version of the budget in mid-April. The council worked to review and change that budget in hours of budget hearings and debates during council meetings. After a series of reductions and increases to several departments and agencies, the council reduced Strickland's overall budget by about $340,000 overall. 

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Still, Memphis police officers got a three percent pay increase. Firefighters got a two percent increase. Both of those increases were included in Strickland's original budget and were worked out with the police and fire unions beforehand, but the council added a 1.5 percent pay increase for all other city employees.

The budget also included money for new police cars, higher payments to the city's pension fund, and more paving projects throughout the city.

"These budgets meet our needs, and they accomplish the goals we set out in April — to strive to be brilliant at the basics at performing core city services," Strickland said. "We're prioritizing public safety, pension funding, and street paving/repairs. We're investing in our neighborhoods and doing what's important for our citizens — all while managing limited resources."

Beale Street Tightens Up

Prepare to see more cops on Beale Street, show your ID, and pay a $10 entry fee on Saturday nights after 10 p.m.

After two stampedes on the street in recent weeks, city leaders announced new measures to improve public safety there. Around 10 to 20 officers from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office will join Memphis Police Department officials on the street. Officers will be more visible in key locations on Beale. 

Security teams will check IDs after 10 p.m. on Saturdays to stop underage individuals from entering the street. The teams will also secure fences and alleys to stop underage individuals from sneaking onto Beale Street. 

Also, Beale visitors will have to pay a $10 fee to enter the street after 10 p.m. on Saturdays. Those visitors will get a $7 voucher (called Beale Street Bucks) that they can use to buy food, drinks, and merchandise on Beale Street.

Strickland called the moves "measured, thoughtful, and necessary" in a news conference last week. 

ServiceMaster Wants Millions in Public Funds

In the week following ServiceMaster's decision to move its headquarters downtown, the company lined up to get about $8.8 million in public funds. 

The Tennessee State Funding board approved a $5.5 million grant — not a loan — to the company last week. The Center City Development Corp. (CCDC) was slated to review a plan this week to give the company $1 million. 

Also, ServiceMaster has asked for $2.3 million from the Memphis and Shelby County Economic Growth Engine (EDGE), which was slated to vote on the matter this week. EDGE will also consider giving the company a 15-year tax break on its personal property that will save the company $843,831. 

The company claims it needs help from the public to renovate the long-vacant Peabody Place shopping mall into office space.

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