VOL. 130 | NO. 145 | Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Commission Rejects Cordova Pay Day Loan Business, Spars Over Tax Collections
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Commissioners approved Monday, July 27, renaming the Shelby County Courthouse at 140 Adams Ave. in honor of the late Circuit Court Judge and civil rights activist D’Army Bailey.
The 11-0 vote, with commissioner David Reaves abstaining, will include two new signs at the southeast and southwest entrances to the courthouse that county government will make in house.
On a short agenda, the commission spent most of its time debating and ultimately defeating a second consideration of allowing a pay day loan business on the southeast corner of Macon Road and Houston Levee Road in Cordova.
The business got the necessary permits to open two years ago even though pay day loan businesses have been forbidden for six years by county zone regulations from locating within a thousand feet of homes or apartments. The Cash Now business in the retail center is within that distance.
The commission had turned down the attempt to grandfather in the business earlier this year when no commissioner would second the item. It came back to the commission because of the lack of notice on the item but it returned with much more debate about whether the owner, Terri Mansker, should have to move because county code enforcement officials didn’t do their jobs.
It was defeated on a 5-6 vote.
The commission also voted down a $629,189 contract for office supplies for county government from Staples Advantage.
The contract had been delayed at the July 6 commission session.
Only commission chairman Justin Ford voted for the contract at Monday’s session.
The contract debate segued into a commission discussion of the $22 million in extra county tax revenue Trustee David Lenoir reported last week he collected for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
County chief administrative officer Harvey Kennedy said it is a further indication that the county’s financial standing is “really in good shape.”
“Perhaps we can get a little more aggressive in the future,” he added, referring to the administration’s projection of $6 million in surplus funding in the county budget season for the current fiscal year that began July 1.
But several commissioners faulted the administration of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell for being too conservative in its projections of the surplus.
Commissioners Terry Roland and Heidi Shafer said they questioned whether Luttrell knew the surplus was going to be more.
They as well as commissioner Mark Billingsley favored a cut in the county property tax rate of at least one cent but didn’t have enough votes.
Shafer said “push back” from Luttrell to a tax rollback was “tremendous and unprecedented.”
“This is not good news for taxpayers,” she added. “This is a slap in the face to taxpayers.”
Roland said the county property tax rate of $4.37 remains too high and is not “competitive” with neighboring counties.
"There was a lot of bloodshed over this budget," Billingsley added, in a reference to the commission's debate about how best to spend the $6 millions surplus. "When we are operating in the dark, we tend to eat our own."
Meanwhile, the commission delayed action on a resolution backing the city’s plan to move the statue of Nathan Bedford Forest out of Health Sciences Park as well as a special use permit for a heavy equipment rental company already located at 4708 Benjestown Road.
S&R Rigging is located in an agricultural conservation area with its owners found in violation of the zoning earlier. Yet the business has continued to operate since the county citation.