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VOL. 127 | NO. 45 | Tuesday, March 6, 2012

City Council Discusses Property Tax Hike

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members will talk more Tuesday, March 6, about the city’s flow of red ink.

On the council’s agenda is the second of three votes on the ordinance that would send out a one-time-only property tax bill that is an 18-cent increase in property taxes. The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

The council approved the tax hike that is not part of the tax rate last year as part of its budget deliberations for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The tax increase wasn’t levied immediately, however. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration moved toward sending out the special tax bill last month after new budget projections for the current fiscal year showed a deficit of $17 million and another projection showed a $47 million shortfall for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

The council will discuss the tax hike at a 9 a.m. committee session also at City Hall.

Memphis police brass is also scheduled to roll out details of new community policing initiatives and a realignment of police precincts at a 10 a.m. committee session.

On the council agenda Tuesday afternoon is a vote on a hotel waiver for the renovation of the French Quarter Suites Hotel at Madison Avenue and Cooper Street.

All hotels and motels in Memphis must get a council waiver from a moratorium on new hotel permits even if it is to rebrand an existing hotel. The moratorium has been in place for years and dates back to the council’s attempts in the 1990s to battle the proliferation of hourly rate motels. Before granting the waivers, council members usually ask specifically if the hotel or motel will operate as an hourly rate facility and what room rates will be charged.

Also on the agenda are two resolutions to issue and refund $75.5 million in general obligation bonds in what amounts to a restructuring of the county’s bond debt.

Council members are also to vote on accepting $475,000 in federal grant funding for the Beale Street Landing project at the foot of Beale Street.

And the council will consider a resolution approving an option agreement for Illinois Central Railroad – subsidiary of Canadian National Railway Co. – to buy several hundred acres in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park for a new logistics facility. The Shelby County Commission and the Memphis and Shelby County Port Commission have already approved the option agreement.

Four resolutions for a total of $2.4 million in sewer and general obligation storm water bond funding are also on Tuesday’s agenda.

The bulk of the funding, $2.1 million, is in sewer revenue bonds to repair a damaged sanitation sewer pipe. The other projects are the Sophia Bayou box culvert, a drainage project in the 4600 block of Edgemont Avenue and for the Poplar Avenue bridge at West Pauline Street.

PROPERTY SALES 83 405 4,276
MORTGAGES 104 424 4,814
BUILDING PERMITS 148 883 10,151
BANKRUPTCIES 53 264 3,149