In this one, commissioners, I am hoping that we consider that the city is a walking time bomb. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t file bankruptcy in some imminent time … In terms of how they operate I don’t have a whole lot of faith.
— James M. Harvey, Chairman, Shelby County Commission, December 11, 2013
At the Public Works Committee meeting of the Shelby County (Tennessee) County Commission, December 11, 2013, a resolution proposed the county transfer ownership interest in 14 public library properties in Memphis to the city. Discussion ensued about the one public library that remains in the unincorporated portion of the county, located perhaps a few dozen feet from the City of Memphis border. The subject of also transferring that property to the city came up. James M. Harvey, Sr., Chairman, Shelby County Commission, expressed concern about the city possibly closing that library if it were transferred to the city and made the above comments.
Chairman Harvey may or may not have great insight into the finances of the City of Memphis. The city is struggling with financial issues, as indicated by the state comptroller expressing concern in 2013 with some aspects of the city’s debt and accounting practices, and with the upcoming proposal to address the estimated underfunding of the city’s pension obligations. The County Commission, however, does not directly deal with the city’s budget. To what extent Harvey is informed enough to make a valid analysis of the city’s future economic situation is not known.
Nevertheless, Harvey is chairman of the county’s legislative body and when a person in that position indicates there would be a lack of surprise if the City of Memphis filed for bankruptcy, it may warrant the attention of the public.
Harvey has a background in finance, according to the biography posted on the county’s web site. It says he is a residential and commercial property investor and manager and the president of Fidelity Mortgage and Funding Inc. Harvey is listed as being a member of the Certified Loan Brokers Association, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, theTennessee Association of Mortgage Brokers, and the National Federation of Independent Business. He worked for United Parcel Service for 18 years and attended the University of Memphis and Shelby State Community College.