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VOL. 127 | NO. 138 | Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sales Tax Ballot Question Part of Busy Council Day

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members take a final vote Tuesday, July 17, on a Nov. 6 ballot question that would raise the local option sales tax rate in Memphis by half a percent.

The vote at Tuesday’s council session is on third and final reading of the referendum ordinance. Meanwhile, the council is scheduled to vote on the second of three readings of another referendum ordinance that would create a 1-cent-a-gallon local gasoline tax with revenues going to the Memphis Area Transit Authority.

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

Also on the agenda is an amendment to the Tournament Center planned development to allow for a 22-acre multi-family development on Tournament Drive west of Hacks Cross Road.

Other zoning and land use items on the agenda include a planned development of 2.5 acres on U.S. 64, west of Collierville-Arlington Road for a mixed-use development of commercial and office uses.

The council is also scheduled to vote on third and final reading of the new Unified Development Code with discussion earlier in the day during a 1 p.m. committee session of amendments that could push third reading to August.

The proposed amendments include requiring developers to host or attend neighborhood meetings and broader notification standards near a proposed development that include notifying those renting property as well as City Council members whose district the project is in.

At a 10 a.m. committee session, council members will get their first look at an ordinance proposed by council member Lee Harris that would require motorists to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

The change in right-of-way rules would apply to marked crosswalks where there are no traffic signals or the signals are not in operation.

“Part of the problem is that we could do a better job of prioritizing pedestrian safety,” Harris said. “Sure, some folks might be fast enough to dart across a roadway and avoid getting hit by a car. But pedestrian safety shouldn’t require a feat of athleticism.”

The first of three readings on the ordinance would be at the Aug. 7 council meeting.

Council member Jim Strickland’s resolution to cut off all city funding for vehicle inspections at the end of June 2013 is to be discussed at the 2 p.m. council executive session. Strickland wants to shift responsibility and funding for auto testing to Shelby County government.

Also at the executive session, Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration is scheduled to brief the council on its efforts and talks with federal environmental agencies about waiving re-inspections for vehicles that fail emissions tests because of a “check engine” light after the vehicle otherwise passes emissions tests.

Council members will discuss two resolutions totaling $3 million in funding for the renovation of the Chisca Hotel on South Main Street at a 12:30 p.m. committee session.

One resolution sends $2 million in city funding for the renovation approved by the council earlier this year to the Center City Development Corp. for its use on the project.

The second resolution authorizes the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. to use $1 million from a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) fund to loan to the Downtown Parking Authority for renovation of the hotel’s parking garage.

The full council would vote on both resolutions at its first meeting in August.

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