VOL. 132 | NO. 141 | Tuesday, July 18, 2017
County Commission Approves Compromise $4.11 County Property Tax Rate
By Bill Dries
Shelby County commissioners compromised on a $4.11 county property tax rate Monday, July 17, on the way to a final vote on the compromise tax rate at a special meeting Wednesday that would bring down the curtain on the county budget season.
Commissioners were split between a $4.13 property tax rate that was the certified tax rate calculated to produce the same amount of revenue as the current tax rate of $4.37 taking into account the increase in property values from the 2017 countywide reappraisal of property and $4.10, which would have eliminated the three cents on the certified tax rate that Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell wanted to devote to a pay-as-you-go fund for smaller capital projects.
Luttrell had indicated he hoped to salvage some tax rate revenue for the pay-as-you-go fund even if it was a penny on the tax rate.
But the compromise killed that with commissioner Terry Roland proposing to devote what amounts to a penny toward adding another percentage point to the 2 percent across-the-board pay raise the commission had earlier approved for county employees as part of the $1.2 billion county budget – making it a 3 percent pay raise.
The commission approved that, setting the stage for a separate action that lopped off the other two cents.
The compromise tax rate was approved by the commission on an 11-2 vote with commissioners Walter Bailey and Justin Ford voting no. Bailey contended there should be no tax cut. Ford favored a $4.10 rate.
Commissioner Heidi Shafer said the compromise showed the commission can “walk and chew gum at the same time.”
“It’s not easy to compromise,” she added.
Commissioner Reginald Milton who was on the other side of the compromise from Shafer said the two factions met in the middle.
“I don’t think anyone got exactly what they wanted,” he said.
The commission also approved Monday a $905,000 grant to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis to open two centers at Dunbar Elementary and Craigmont High School.
Commissioners had voted down county funding for three of the school centers earlier in the month with the understanding that Shelby County Schools would fund them.
But Friday, the school system said it was legally barred from using their direct budget revenue for anything other than school system k-12 programs.
All told, the county administration will be using approximately $2.7 million from the county fund balance or reserves to balance the county general fund budget including the percentage point added to the county pay raise and the funding for the Boys & Girls Club centers, according to county chief administrative officer Harvey Kennedy.
That compares to $7.8 million used from county reserves to balance the county budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The Monday session began with a move to reopen the county budget the commission approved earlier this month. Since Luttrell had not signed the budget, any commissioner could move for reconsideration and reopen the budget with a 2/3rds majority vote. Roland moved to do so. But it ultimately was never acted on formally.