AUG. 4-- A public meeting likely to include discussion of whether the financially challenged city of Crump should be eliminated is set for 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
Crump Mayor Glen Spencer said at the city board’s July 25 meeting that he set up a session for the officials to review options regarding issues that have recently arisen, including the possibility of unincorporating.
The July 25 Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting was attended by an audience of approximately 30 people, possibly the largest group in several years.
Several Crump citizens commented before and after the meeting that they had hoped to discuss those very questions with the board, which abruptly adjourned without the customary opening of the meeting for public comment.
Spencer said Municipal Management Consultant Ronnie Neill, of the Memphis office of the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, which advises municipalities on laws and regulations regarding local government, will meet with the board.
“This is a meeting to answer, basically, questions that I’ve been asked and that (Neill) has been asked. We’re going to look at deannexation and surrendering the city charter, and what has to be done (if the city chooses that option) – we’re going to look at property taxes, city stickers, business licenses, everything – all of our options,” Spencer said.
After contentious debate between Spencer and Alderman Glenn Miller, who has long pushed for Crump to cut expenses to free up revenue to repair streets and roads, the board passed a proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year on first reading. The fiscal year began July 1, and the board was forced to approve a continuation of the last year’s budget to allow operations until a new budget is passed.
The vote on the proposed new budget was 3-2, with Spencer and Aldermen Mary Warren and Stacey Plunk voting yes, and Miller and Vice Mayor Vicky Cotner voting no. The proposed budget must be passed at a second public reading before it takes effect.
Spencer first proposed a new budget in April, and the board voted it down in May and June, with several board members looking to find additional ways to cut expenses. Proposals were discussed to reduce the number of employees in the city’s parks department, reduce other city employees, and solicit bids in hopes of cutting insurance expenses.
Ways to increase revenue were also discussed, including the possibility of the city implementing a real property tax, stickers for city resident vehicles, and business licensing. The board came to no decision on what should or could be done.
The sole casualty of the board’s months-long budget cut debates was the firing of former police chief Jeff Plunk. Plunk’s termination was announced at the June city board meeting by Spencer, who said it was done as a budget-cutting measure.
At last week’s July meeting, Miller repeatedly asked Spencer, after all the months of discussion, what the city ultimately saved.
“It looks like we’ve increased in some areas we could have cut, and we lost a full-time officer. If we only reduced the budget by $11,000, that would be sad,” Miller said.
Spencer insisted that all that could be done to cut the budget had been done. He asked Miller what further cuts he would suggest, adding that it was Miller who first suggested cutting a police officer and possibly a parks department employee.
The board also passed changes to two ordinances on second and final reading, one pertaining to parking and the other regarding city court.
According to Spencer, the parking ordinance was developed and suggested by MTAS. It is intended to consolidate and update the city’s various parking ordinances that are currently found in several areas of the city code.
Spencer explained the main change to the ordinance regarding city court restricts the city recorder from sitting as city judge, as was previously allowed by state law. Spencer said new state law required the change in the ordinance.
Both of those ordinances also passed by a 3-2 margin, with Spencer, Warren and Plunk voting yes, and Miller and Cotner voting no.
Prior to the meeting being adjourned, when Spencer asked if any board members had any new business they would like placed on the August meeting agenda, Warren said she would like the board to review the city beer ordinance. She did not elaborate.