Memphis Budget Showdown: Property Tax Hike or Rollback?
The Memphis City Council will vote on a budget for 2013 on Tuesday. Mayor AC Wharton’s proposal includes a one-time property tax hike and cuts to city services, but council members have other ideas. Some council members want to cut taxes and dip into city reserves.
Council members Jim Strickland, Harold Collins and Edmond Ford, Jr. have proposed dipping into the city reserves to pay Memphis’ share to Memphis City Schools. This is the last year the city is responsible for funding the school district, as it’s merging into one countywide school district. The councilmen say it’s a one-time cash outlay and will not be part of the budget in years moving forward.
The Wharton administration is opposed to dipping into the reserve fund except in an emergency, such as the big flood a year ago or if a tornado touched down inside the city.
Bill Dries says Memphis’ operating budget is $628 million. Currently, the city reserve fund is at about $81 million.
The Wharton administration has proposed cutting library hours, closing four to five libraries, and shortening the hours that golf courses are open.
The council would prefer to keep libraries and community centers open and roll back property taxes, without losing any city services.