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Strategic Business Model Assessment Committee Update – August 11, 2010

August 11, 2010

Approximately three weeks after their first meeting, the Strategic Business Model Assessment Committee (SBMAC) will meet again today to report on their progress to date and next steps. As part of our “City of Choice” plan, the SBMAC will exhaustively analyze and review every business operation of Memphis’ municipal government to identify efficiencies and potential areas of improvement. The SMBAC was divided into five subcommittees: Zero-Based Budgeting; Taxes, Fees, and Incentives; Personnel and Benefits; Resources and Facilities; and CIP and Debt Management.

“I have asked each member of the SBMAC team to focus on policy recommendations for the Mayor that will give us a city government that is affordable, accountable, and aspirational. Those are our core values,” says Doug Edwards, former CEO of Morgan Keegan and the SBMAC’s Chairman. “The Mayor asked us for strategies on how we can set common priorities for spending the city’s dollars, grounded in sensible debt policy and shaped by plans for boosting the city’s revenue. Everyone knows how Memphis has fallen behind over the years in terms of economic growth and financial stability. We have been living beyond our means in a way that has placed a regressive burden on those citizens least equipped to handle it. This has to stop. I am glad that Mayor Wharton has asked for some fresh perspectives and private sector insights on how to achieve this.

“At this point, each of the subcommittees has met at least once. Most of the past few weeks has been spent reviewing previous reports and efficiency studies, such as the 2007 Deloitte study, to see which recommendations may still be applicable and achievable in the short term. Every recommendation we end up making to the Mayor will be grounded in research, common sense, and careful review of how Memphis measures up against our peer cities. We’re going to be moving through this process methodically and rationally, not politically and reactively.”

“That being said, we know that by our next meeting in September we need to provide the Mayor with at least a few well-developed ideas and recommendations that he can consider. All of the work we are doing is intended to be utilized in some form during the budget process for fiscal year 2012.”

The benefits of what they are doing are far-reaching, but the perils of doing nothing are imminent. We cannot sustain the way the City of Memphis has been doing business for many years. This is the change and accountability that the people have been demanding, and through the work of the SBMAC, we are going to give it to them.

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