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VOL. 133 | NO. 28 | Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: MLGW Rate Hike, The May Ballot So Far and Old Dominick's Taxes

By Bill Dries

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The Tobacco Corner, a Poplar Corridor landmark, is closing in April. There was once a set of Tobacco Corners that look like the one at Poplar and Mendenhall and they included “newsrooms” – places to buy magazines, sometimes adult, and newspapers -- after buying tobacco. In almost 50 years, none of those product lines are what they once were. And the legacy of a homegrown business is disapperaring, too. 

A bill to expand the territory covered by EDGE – Economic Development Growth Engine – beyond the parkways for offering development incentives for multifamily and hotels is moving in Nashville. The sponsors are Germantown Republican Brian Kelsey in the Senate and Republican Kevin Vaughan of Collierville in the House. They are carrying the bill for the Strickland and Luttrell administrations. And that is an indication that there might be a lot of multifamily projects holding their water and laying low until this is a done deal in Nashville. This bill applies only to Shelby County and goes toward the goal of increasing density.

Tennessee House speaker Beth Harwell, who is also a Republican contender for Governor, is backing this year’s version of a medical marijuana bill in the Legislature, reports our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard.

A proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution also by Kelsey would ban any state tax on income from stocks and bonds – personal income from investments and dividends. In other words, the Hall tax that is in the process of being phased out.

This is just emerging from committee in the state Senate and if it passes this year, it has to pass in both chambers again next year before it goes on the ballot statewide.

The Memphis City Council approves 2 percent rate hikes for gas and electricity through Memphis Light Gas and Water Division. There was a lot of debate on this that sets the stage for MLGW’s new CEO who starts the new job in March. A majority on the council didn’t want to go beyond what amounts to an interim rate hike for the two sectors until J.T. Young looks things over and determines if a further rate hike is necessary. More on the council debate when next we meet.

Our basic council story leading with the rate hikes also details the third ballot question to go on the November ballot – doing away with what is left of the city charters’ runoff provision. And an exploration by the police union of a sales tax hike that would also have to go on the ballot, prompts a lot of questions from the city administration.

A corrected version of our online rundown of Monday’s County Commission meeting. This is about the new commission rules for joining a meeting by conference call or Skype. The rule by commission chairwoman Heidi Shafer approved by the commission Monday applies only to committee sessions and only twice in a year. And no voting remotely. None of this applies to the full commission meetings – meetings of the full body. Got it? Good.

We are just about one week from the filing deadline for the May county primaries and here’s a look at how some of those matchup are turning out. And some dollar figures from the campaigns for mayor. There is still an open seat on the county commission with one contender and a commission incumbent without a challenger. And who knew that the primaries for county clerk and trustee would be so popular. On the other hand, E. H. Crump was county trustee longer than he was mayor of Memphis.

You’ve heard of the sales tax holiday for school supplies in Tennessee and other states, a bill in Nashville would exempt gun safes from paying the state’s sales tax.

Old Dominick marks its first anniversary with the recent opening of The Grey Canary restaurant and a break on the excise tax paid per gallon of what is produced there – that as a result of federal tax reform.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment is Christine Staples, the new VP of water technologies at Buckman, who says take all of the science and math classes you can and probably learn a foreign language or two.

PROPERTY SALES 91 293 13,051
MORTGAGES 58 168 8,171
BUILDING PERMITS 99 744 30,678
BANKRUPTCIES 34 156 6,220