MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - There are always eight votes on the Shelby County Commission when it comes to objecting to municipal schools. Some call them the CC8, as a matter of fact. They held strong in this meeting, led by new Commission Chairman Mike Ritz. He wants the sales tax increase on the ballot in Shelby County, because if approved, it guarantees money to all school systems, including the Unified School System.
Ritz disagrees with Mayor Luttrell, saying it is best to wait and see. “Quite frankly, what they’re attempting to do is to try and make it so the schools don’t have enough money. We need to resist that,” he says.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton isn’t thrilled with the county sales tax deal. The city wanted to let only city voters decide on a sales tax increase that would apply only to Memphis. If it was approved, Memphis could keep all of the money, an estimated $45 million or so. Under this plan, the city would get only $23 million.
One of the biggest critics of the city came to their defense at this meeting. Officials have said the Memphis sales tax increase would be used to lower the property tax. Commissioner Terry Roland likes that plan. “If they would use the money to lower property taxes it would be great for the city of Memphis,” Roland said. "Maybe people would want to start moving back in, and if they did that, it would give Memphis a huge boost.”
The eight votes to override the veto came from all of the Democrats, and Republican Mike Ritz. One reason Walter Bailey voted to override the veto is because he says the sales tax plan is the only plan anybody’s produced to help raise school money. “There’s no alternative offer out there,” Bailey told commissioners. “We must vote for this plan because nobody has any idea how to raise money for schools other than this referendum.”
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell didn’t show up for the meeting. Those voting to override the veto were commissioners Ford, Burgess, Mulroy, Brooks, Bailey, Chism, Harvey and Ritz. Voting not to override were Shafer, Roland, Taylor, and Thomas. Republican Wyatt Bunker was absent.