Wharton: City Seeking Tax Relief for South Cordova

By Bill Dries

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said Friday, July 13, that his administration is seeking some ways around property tax bills the city’s newest residents must pay in about two months after a surprise annexation earlier this month.

“We know we must try to find a way to give them some relief,” Wharton said at the end of a week that included a contentious town hall meeting Wednesday with nearly 200 residents of the newly annexed South Cordova area at Bert Ferguson Community Center.

At the meeting, Wharton pledged that residents wouldn’t be paying the city for any services before July 1. That did little to mute the fury. The area of roughly 4,900 households was annexed by the city effective July 1. The annexation followed approval of the annexation in 2001 and the filing of two lawsuits, the last of which was dismissed in May.

Wharton said Friday that officials with the state Board of Equalization have told him the city cannot have different tax delinquency dates for city properties. Instead, he indicated the city may pursue state legislation that would make a grace period for property owners in annexed areas a state law. Wharton’s preliminary idea of such legislation is that it would be applied to the South Cordova annexation area if approved by the Tennessee Legislature.

He also said the city won’t turn delinquent tax accounts in the area over to a collection agency and in a written statement, he said no one is in any immediate danger of losing their homes in the transition.