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VOL. 133 | NO. 57 | Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Council to Discuss City Pre-K Funding Proposal

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members have their first discussion Tuesday, March 20, on Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland ’s proposal to provide $6 million in city funding to expand prekindergarten programs by 2020.

City Council member Kemp Conrad, left, council chairman Berlin Boyd and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland in the Hall of Mayors prior to announcing a proposal Saturday, March 17, to provide city funding from two sources to expand prekindergarten programs. (Daily News/Bill Dries)

The proposal will be discussed at the 2:20 p.m. council executive session.

Strickland has been working with council chairman Berlin Boyd and council members Patrice Robinson and Kemp Conrad on the proposal. It would allocate the equivalent of a penny from the existing city property tax rate toward “universal needs-based prekindergarten” as well as property tax revenue that comes back on the city rolls after being abated through payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs.

The plan avoids a sales tax hike referendum or similar funding referendums that failed at the polls in two previous attempts to fund a prekindergarten expansion.

Strickland said the average duration of a PILOT is eight years. During that time, companies that make and investment in Memphis pay a lower amount of city property taxes then pay the full amount when the PILOT expires. Funds going to pre-K fund would be the difference between the lower and full tax rate payments.

The city’s $6 million from both sources is part of an estimated $16 million needed to fully fund prekindergarten in Memphis for 8,500 children starting when a federal grant that currently funds 1,000 of the existing 7,000 pre-K seats runs out in 2019. The city funding would also add 1,000 seats in 2020.

Strickland’s proposal will be in the form of an ordinance that requires passage on three readings. The ordinance is not currently on the council’s agenda for a first reading vote Tuesday, but could be added at Tuesday’s executive session.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main. Follow the meeting @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols , for live coverage and updates from committee sessions earlier in the council day.

Also on the agenda Tuesday is a vote on the first of three readings for two ordinances that would de-annex part of Eads that is within the city of Memphis and an unoccupied section of river-bottom land in southwest Memphis.

Also at the executive session, the council will consider adding another sanitation worker to the list of those from the 1968 strike who are receiving a $70,000 one-time grant from the city.

The resolution adds $89,600 – $70,000 for the additional grant and another $19,600 for federal taxes.

The council also considers the sale of the vehicle service center and sign shop facilities to ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, for its appraised value of $3.3 million.

The seven parcels are at 671 St. Jude Place, 425 and 435 N. Manassas. They are all in an area where Danny Thomas Boulevard passes over Interstate 40, with Manassas as the eastern border and North Parkway as the northern border.

That 12:45 p.m. committee discussion will include an update on repair work on the city’s north wastewater treatment plant that shut down for several days this month with untreated sewage being diverted into the Mississippi River until repairs are completed.

At a 1:20 p.m. committee session, council members will continue discussions they began earlier this month with Shelby County commissioners about workforce strategies.

Leadership at the federally funded Workforce Investment Network and Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce are each in flux. WIN is seeking a new director and GMACW has been folded into EDGE – the Economic Development Growth Engine – an economic development organization whose reach and role is being reviewed by the council and commission along with the Greater Memphis Chamber.

PROPERTY SALES 51 223 1,152
MORTGAGES 55 189 861
BUILDING PERMITS 149 541 2,593