MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It’s a love story. Government is in love with taxpayer’s money. We’re not talking puppy love, either. Not to mention they’re jealous lovers, they want all of that sales tax money for themselves. Of course Memphis is sitting smack in high cotton when it comes to sales tax money.
“We seem to think, you know, there’s a mall in Collierville, there’s a mall in Bartlett and all these other things,” says Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz. “Frankly, most of the sales tax money collected in Shelby County is collected in Memphis.”
Memphis loves sales tax money, and wants to keep more of your dough. This fall the city wants to let you decide whether to raise the sales tax by half a percent. The suburbs, the Colliervilles, the Germantowns, those places, want to raise sales taxes as well with all the money going to their school systems - if people decide they want municipal schools.
“If we don’t have a county wide sales tax, none of the sales tax will go to the Shelby County School system,” says Ritz.
Ritz is talking about the merged city and county systems that will start operations next summer. All studies done show that even if the Unified School Board agrees with more than 170 proposed changes by the merger's Transition Planning Commission, the new school system will be roughly $59 million in the red before they teach a single student. If Shelby County approved a county wide sales tax increase, half of the money raised would go to all school districts, including the merged system.
While all this fear and loathing is going on, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell is saying basically keep your collective shirts on. “It’s premature to talk about this,” he says. “If the school board accepts recommendations to try and narrow the gap, and they come to us and say we’ve tried everything we know to do, we can at that point say this is a compelling argument to come up with some additional funding.”
You can’t just snap your fingers and *poof* additional funding comes falling from the sky into your budgets. State education leaders have told Mayor Luttrell they won’t be able to send the unified schools any money.