MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - People living in Shelby County suburbs will have to dig deep into their pockets to pay for municipal school districts.
At the polls earlier this month, suburban voters said yes to creating their own municipal school systems. Now the question is: what will it really cost?
Consultants hired by the suburbs concluded residents wouldn't have to face a significant property tax hike to create municipal schools. County Commissioner Mike Ritz says he's analyzed the data and came up with a different conclusion.
"There's a good number of people in the suburbs who don't care what it costs, I under stand that… but I think [politicians] should have told them what it was going to cost even at the risk of losing a few votes," Ritz said. "The consultants for all these suburban school districts low-balled the cost estimates considerably."
Ritz estimates by the time it's all said and done, it will likely cost more than $10,000 a year to educate each child in the municipal districts. That's almost $2,000 more than the county spends per child now.
To make up the difference, Ritz says taxes in the suburbs could go up between 100 and 400 percent. "Every city is different. None of these suburbs are flying the same kite, they don't have the same issues."
"The things he assumes in his mathematics our experts don't agree with," countered Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald. "He doesn't have anything to back it up, he's just trying to fear monger out there, you know, and make people afraid."
McDonald disagrees with that $10,000 per child figure, but admits consultants only looked at the current situation.
"If Bartlett or Germantown or one of the other municipalities said, 'You know, we want some other things,' well, other things are going to cost more, and our citizens, I believe, understand that."
Ritz thinks suburban politicians downplayed the cost for political gain, but McDonald surmised, "If it's a whole lot more than what we've estimated, who do you think stands to lose the most? Me."
By Ritz's calculations, Arlington would be in the worst shape. Taxes could climb higher than what Memphis residents currently pay.