MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton says he blew it. When it came to explaining a proposed half percent countywide sales tax increase, he admits people didn't understand where the money would go. Voters overwhelmingly shot it down; now the city wants to bring up the issue... Again.
It's a half a percent sales tax increase, meaning if you buy something for a buck you'll spend a dollar and ten cents. City council members may give you a chance to vote on the issue, and it's a bit different than the one people defeated last fall.
A sales tax increase would raise $45 million. $20 million would be used to lower property taxes, and $25 million would be used to offer pre-kindergarten programs to Memphis four year olds.
Mayor A C Wharton just loves pre-kindergarten programs. He thought the Shelby County sales tax increase proposal would win and money would go to Pre-K.
It turned out there were so many questions and issues about money in that election that nobody understood where the tax money would go. The whole thing was defeated big time.
"We blew it, quite frankly, and we got what we deserved on it," Wharton said. "This is why, like I said in there, before we start getting on the market with this, there will be one hymnal, everybody will say the same thing, the public will not be confused."
Right now city council members are confused. Others don't like it.
Harold Collins says no program will work until the kids - and most importantly, their parents - are held accountable for truancy.
"What we see, what I see, is kindergartners, first graders, who are missing 25 days of school, 30 days of school just this year alone," he said.
Council members will make a final decision on whether to hold a special election on the sales tax in several weeks. They hope that if all goes well, you folks can get a chance to vote on the plan next September.