The Metro Charter Commission now has a lot of work for its drafting committee, as the group’s task forces continue to report at the body’s weekly meetings.
Still to come are the recommendations about how the services will be divided into urban and general services districts, each with their own tax rates. Those recommendations will be critical to the proposed consolidation charter.
“We’re not there yet,” commission chairwoman Julie Ellis told Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner last week as Joyner looked for some indication. “These are all of great concern to all of us.”
An urban services district would be funded by a property tax rate for people who live in Memphis.
A general services district would be funded by a property tax rate for the entire county, including Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington.
Joyner is among those most concerned about where the money will come from to pay for those services.
“Two-percent of our population uses any service that is offered by the health department – 2 percent,” Joyner said as charter commissioners brought up county services used by Collierville residents. “(Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division) – but we pay handsomely for that.”
Afterward, Joyner questioned how to prevent a metro council from taxing Collierville residents beyond what they actually use.
“They can do it now, though,” argued Charter commissioner Chris Patterson, who said Collierville residents now pay for more than the services they use from county government. “It’s the same animal.”
Joyner and other suburban leaders argue they should be taxed depending on how much their residents use facilities like The Regional Medical Center at Memphis and the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department.
Consolidation proponents, however, argue The MED and the health department are countywide services that should be funded by all county taxpayers because the services are available to all county residents.
Meanwhile, the commission has tentatively approved seven recommendations from a task force on central support services.
The recommendations would establish departments within a metro government for building security, fleet management, printing and local government property maintenance.
All recommendations go to a drafting committee that will craft charter language and then take the written provisions back to the charter commission for votes on the language as well as the general idea.
Charter Commissioner Damon Griffin, who headed the support services task force, said the departments would not be full-fledged city divisions with directors appointed by the metro mayor and a tier of deputy directors. Each might have two or three employees and then outsource some work.
The task force recommendations approved by the Charter Commission also call for:
- A chief information officer, appointed by the metro mayor, to oversee all IT operations.
- A metro public information office to be part of the executive powers of the metro mayor. The office would serve as the spokesman for all parts of a consolidated local government and not just individual offices or departments.
- Consolidated purchasing services as part of the department of finance and administration.
The charter proposal is due to be completed by mid-August with a vote on the November ballot....