County Tax Rate Projected to Increase by 33 Cents

By Bill Dries

The Shelby County property tax rate would increase at least 33 cents in order to produce the same amount of revenue for county government it currently produces.

That was the bottom line of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s budget presentation Wednesday, April 10, to the Shelby County Commission’s budget committee.

The 33 cents would be part of a certified county property tax rate that takes into account the 2013 county property reappraisal. For the first time in memory, that reappraisal showed a significant enough decline in appraised property values that raising the rate would be necessary to produce the same amount of revenue.

Luttrell told commissioners there are still several factors to be determined including what the soon-to-be consolidated school system’s budget looks like.

The $1.2 billion county budget is balanced with no pay raises for county employees in the fiscal year that begins July 1 and no layoffs of county employees. It is balanced based on a certified tax rate that would add 33 cents to the current county property tax rate of $4.02.

But the budget does not yet include several million dollars in additional county funding for the Shelby County Public Defenders office that would be part of an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department on reforms of Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court. It also doesn’t include additional funding for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to put its officers in Memphis schools post-schools merger that now have a Memphis Police officer.

Luttrell also expressed disappointment that neither his administration nor the commission have at this point a formal budget proposal from the school system for the first fiscal year of the schools merger.