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VOL. 129 | NO. 82 | Monday, April 28, 2014

Budget Specifics Come In for County Commission

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners are in that time of the year when crowded agendas yield to hearings and votes on a budget for the coming fiscal year.

So when the commission meets Monday, April 28, the agenda will be relatively light as commissioners begin to take in some of the details of the financial decisions they will make later.

The Monday meeting is at 1:30 p.m. at the Vasco Smith County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

Follow the meeting @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols.

Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer is chairing budget hearings. Part of the budget puzzle is a $946.9 million request from Shelby County Schools.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

As budget hearings chaired by Commissioner Heidi Shafer continued last Wednesday, the latest pieces of the budget puzzle were arriving including the $946.9 million budget request from Shelby County Schools that was approved the night before by the school board.

More than half of the revenue to fund a budget that size – $484.8 million would come from state government. The amount is $140 million or 22.4 percent less in state funding than the school system gets in the current fiscal year.

County tax revenue that goes to the budget would be $310.1 million, which is $80 million or 20.5 percent less in county funding to the school system than in the current fiscal year.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has a total of $382 million to fund public education in his $1.1 billion consolidated county budget proposal.

If the commission accepts the school board’s overall budget amount including the amount of county funding, that would leave $72 million to be split among the six suburban school districts that begin operations in the new fiscal year.

The current fiscal year is the only year of a single merged public school district in Shelby County as well as the first year of county government being the only local funding source of public education.

The new fiscal year will be followed a month later by the first school year of the demerger of public education in Shelby County in which there will be seven public school districts. The county remains the only local funding source of the Shelby County Schools system, which will consist of the city of Memphis and the unincorporated areas of Shelby County. The six suburban school districts will have local funding from Shelby County government as well as local funding from their respective municipal governments.

The county funding to all seven school districts will be divided proportionally based on the average daily attendance of each school system.

Meanwhile, the Shelby County Election Commission came to the budget committee last week with a proposal to hire more employees and ran into questions about an FBI investigation of the commission.

Commissioner Steve Mulroy tried to question elections administrator Richard Holden about what contact he has had with FBI agents. Holden has previously acknowledged that FBI agents wanted to interview him but didn’t say what they wanted to talk about.

Shelby County Attorney Marcy Ingram cut off the inquiries at least for now as Mulroy questioned whether she could do that.

On the commission’s agenda Monday is a set of three contract resolutions for the Fite Road Bridge and improvement project in northern Shelby County. The project realigns Fite Road between Woodstock Boulevard and U.S. 51 and installs a four-lane bridge over the Canadian National Railway Co. tracks that can be expanded. It also includes a traffic signal at U.S. 51.

The three contracts total $13.7 million. Of that amount $11 million is federal funding passed through the state and the remaining $2.7 million is the local funding match in the county’s existing capital budget for the current fiscal year.

The largest of the three contracts is $13.1 million with Ford Construction Co. for the actual construction work.

The second contract for $530,000 is with Fisher and Arnold Inc. for construction engineering and inspection services.

The third contract for $99,720 is with MCI Communications Services Inc. for the relocation of utility services.

Also on the agenda Monday is a $1.7 million contract with B Four Plied Inc. to replace the roof on the county government building at 1075 Mullins Station Road. The commission delayed action on the item at its April 14 meeting after several commissioners expressed concern that the Memphis company’s minority employees are Hispanic and none are African-American.

PROPERTY SALES 79 321 2,586
MORTGAGES 90 426 3,033
BUILDING PERMITS 153 796 6,864
BANKRUPTCIES 37 213 2,000