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VOL. 132 | NO. 52 | Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Gas Tax Resurrection, More Monitoring and Germantown's $200 M Plan

By Bill Dries

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's gas tax bill emerged from the workshop effectively on Monday with a sharper cut in the state grocery tax making the complex set of gas tax hike and other tax rollbacks more than revenue neutral.

The tax cuts proposed are now greater in total than the tax increases. Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, reports that all started to come together over the weekend at the funeral of state Senator Douglas Henry, the longest serving legislator in the history of the Tennessee legislature.

It turns out Memphis Police aren’t the only law enforcement officers who have been watching the uptick in protests locally in the last year or so. Actually, the MPD is part of a coalition of law enforcement agencies feeding information into the Tennessee Fusion Center – a clearinghouse of sorts that grew out of anti-terrorism measures in the years after 9/11. And during the July protests locally, they were busy.

We first wrote about the Fusion Center in 2011.

An Atlanta developer is the latest to take a swing at developing the Arthur tract in Germantown and the timing on this effort by the Carter Company seems really good with the $150 million Thornwood mixed-use development underway at Neshoba and Germantown Roads.

The Arthur tract is west of Saddle Creek South and the still tentative Carter plan is $200 million of mixed-use walkable environment plans that are a key piece of Germantown’s western Gateway.

The Warren and Tulane apartment complexes, the federally subsidized apartment complexes at the center of the controversy over how Memphis-based Global Ministries Foundation ran these and similar communities, have a $3 million offer. The court appointed receiver has reported this to U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla. And that sets up a process of allowing any other companies who can go at least 10 percent higher to make their best offer.

The first budget year of SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s plan to play offense instead of defense on a turnaround of the school system includes $47 million in funding specifically toward that effort – from “critical focus” schools – to no teacher layoffs and a teacher pay raise -- to planning for what Hopson and staff hope is the tail end of the loss of students from the demerger of 2013. Hopson took a balanced $945.2 million budget proposal to the school board Monday, which is $23.1 million less than the current budget. His plan would use about $15 million from the school system’s surplus or reserve fund.

Back to the Tennessee Legislature for two developments:

Another part of the gas tax discussion also appears to be resolved or on the road to resolution with Haslam promising state money to prosecutors across the state that they feared they would lose as the state prepares to pass a new open container law that will keep federal transportation funds flowing for road projects.

More on the Tennessee Legislature’s lawsuit over refugee resettlement. This is an issue that began as a quarrel with the Obama administration by the Republican-majorities in both chambers and now it is a lawsuit against the Trump administration. State Senate Republican leader Mark Norris, however, says this is not a criticism of President Donald Trump.

Grizz over the Bucks at the Forum Monday evening 113-93.

Oh by the way, Chandler Parsons is out indefinitely for the Grizz with a partial tear of the meniscus of his left knee.

Which is perhaps what brings us to football in March – specifically Gaelic football, which has been here since 2015 and is now ramping up for a more visible presence.

Of course, there is always your March Madness bracket, which doesn’t include the University of Memphis but does include the word Memphis as the site of a playoff round. And even if you can’t make it to the Forum, there are ways to watch.

In our Construction Emphasis:

We may not have all of the construction cranes that Nashville and other cities do. But redevelopment in Memphis is, like those other cities, dealing with a shortage of skilled construction labor as the remake of Memphis is underway. And behind the shortage is an old perception about construction jobs that doesn’t take into account the role technology and the skills surrounding that technology have played in transforming the work.

Resiliency in Millington, among other strides the city is making. The resiliency grant there is for a water recreation area that doubles as a flood control measure at Big Creek. Shoppes at Millington Farms is under construction and an old Navy hangar is being gutted and rebuilt as a civilian flight school.

The new Tennessee architect, Ann McGauran, talks about the influence and efforts of her mother.

What is ping-pong without beer?

A locally sourced subscription food service is about to launch the service for an eight week period through mid-May.

The life of a nightclub is relatively short and can come to an end from one happy hour to the next. There are lots of plans but fewer plans realized. Such is the case with Senses, the Poplar Avenue nightspot that was open for nine years and has been closed for almost four years. The building is now facing foreclosure and a sale at auction on the steps of the courthouse in the harsh light of day.

PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367