Commission to Complete Schools Budget

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Commissioners should wrap up their action Monday, June 17, on the first budget for the consolidated school system with a final vote on the school system budget.

The commission meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Vasco Smith County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

Shelby County Commissioners will vote Monday on what should be their final action to set a budget for the countywide school system in the first year of the merger.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

The vote on the total dollar amount of the budget and county funding for the $1.18 billion budget comes after the school board voted Tuesday, June 11, to fund a remaining $12 million gap between the school system’s expenses and revenues from its reserve funds.

The commission also votes on the second of three readings on a county property tax rate that would help provide $20 million in new county funding for the school system.

The commission approved on first reading at its June 3 meeting a $4.38 property tax rate with eight votes, one more than the simple majority required.

The existing county property tax rate is $4.02 in Memphis. It is 4 cents higher in the county outside Memphis to pay off rural school bonds that financed the construction of Arlington High School.

The $4.38 rate includes a 30-cent increase in the tax rate for a recertified rate that produces the same amount of revenue for county government taking into account the property value lost in the 2013 property reappraisal.

The other 6 cents on the tax rate is a tax hike that provides about half of the $20 million in new funding to the school system. The other half comes from an adjustment in revenue projections by the administration of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

The commission approves a total dollar amount for the school system’s budget even though it doesn’t fund the entire amount. The commission does not have line-item control over the schools budget.

In other action, the commission votes on three contracts totaling $584,943 for engineering design services on HVAC, emergency generators and a cooling loop and utility upgrade for the set of five county buildings Downtown, including the administration building, the Criminal Justice Center at 201 Poplar Ave and the Shelby County Courthouse.

And the commission will vote on third and final reading of a set of ordinances that move back the effective date for new seismic building standards for homes and existing buildings to the end of 2013. Without the action, which the Memphis City Council has also taken, the standards would take effect July 1.

The commission has heard from homebuilders who want the delay, arguing it will raise prices as the sector continues to recover from the recession. They’ve also heard from structural engineers who say there should be no delay in implementing the more stringent standards given the earthquake risk to the area from the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

Appointments on Monday’s agenda include Julie C. Furr to the Memphis and Shelby County Building Code Board. Furr is project manager at Chad Stewart and Associates Inc. of Millington, an engineering firm.

Cassandra Bell Warren, principal broker of 4 Success Realty of Memphis, has been appointed by Luttrell to the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board.

And the commission will vote on the appointment of countywide school board member Freda G. Williams to the Juvenile Justice Consortium.