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VOL. 128 | NO. 24 | Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Council Votes on Sales Tax Referendum

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members take the first step toward a fall referendum on a citywide half percent sales tax hike Tuesday, Feb. 4, as they vote on the first of three readings of the referendum ordinance.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

Also on the agenda is a companion resolution that would set in stone what the estimated $47 million in revenue from the tax hike would be used for. Of the total, $27 million would be used for pre-kindergarten programs via a trust fund with a board appointed by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. The remaining $20 million would be used, under terms of the resolution, to roll back the city property tax rate by 20 cents.

The council sponsors of both measures, Jim Strickland and Shea Flinn, have talked of an August or September special election in the city on the ballot question.

The council is also scheduled to vote on third and final reading of a “wage theft” ordinance. The council delayed the final vote last month after the county version of the ordinance was defeated by the Shelby County Commission on final reading in January.

At a 12:35 p.m. committee session, council members get their first look at the Memphis Housing Authority redevelopment plan for the old Cleaborn Homes public housing development, now named Cleaborn Pointe, as well as the site of the old Alonzo Locke Elementary School nearby.

The Memphis City Council will vote on the first of three readings of an ordinance that would set a fall referendum on a citywide half percent sales tax hike.

The last of Cleaborn Homes’ 63 apartment buildings with 460 units built in the mid-1950s were demolished last year.

Most of the site would be mixed-use housing with some realignment and widening of streets for a total of 381 new multi-family and senior housing units. Most of them, 235, would be rowhouses. Another 84 would be senior citizen housing in mid-rise buildings and 62 would be garden apartments.

L.E. Brown Park would be expanded to three acres and shifted to the corner of Georgia Avenue and Orleans Street.

The old Alonzo Locke Elementary School would be demolished with family housing units built on the land.

The demolition and redevelopment are being funded with $22 million in federal funding combined with private financing for a total of $60 million.

The city’s development partners in Cleaborn Pointe are Pennrose Properties, Durvernay and Brooks and Community Capital.

A council resolution would set Feb. 19 for a public hearing at the council session that day on the plan.

Redevelopment of the 27.38 acres into mixed-income housing with no mixed uses would be part of the still developing larger Heritage Trail redevelopment plan. But unlike the Heritage Trail plan, the specific redevelopment of Cleaborn Pointe does not involve tax increment financing.

The first drafts of the Heritage Trail plan included a financing plan that drew a tax increment financing zone much larger than Cleaborn and neighboring Foote Homes public housing development to draw property tax revenues from within that zone.

The size of the zone drew concerns from economic and community development bodies with smaller zones within the proposed TIF zone. Those concerns about the balance between TIF incentives and payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentives prompted Wharton to call for a reworking of the Heritage Trail financing plan.

Council members take up the proposed ordinance by council member Myron Lowery to rename Forrest Park to include anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells at a 10:30 a.m. committee session. The session also includes a discussion of the city’s removal of a Forrest Park sign commissioned by the Nathan Bedford Forrest chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The council executive session at 1:30 p.m. includes a look at the strategic five-year financial and management plan the city is moving to in budget planning.

And council members will discuss a plan by Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division to have Memphis Biomed Ventures III LP manage $2 million for the benefit of the utility’s trust fund at an 11:30 a.m. committee session.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 52 136 5,209
MORTGAGES 79 182 6,891
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 13 50 1,606
BUILDING PERMITS 328 328 12,307
BANKRUPTCIES 70 175 5,475
BUSINESS LICENSES 30 58 2,119
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 85 182 7,240
MARRIAGE LICENSES 19 43 1,501

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