MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It costs a dollar and nine cents to get anything for a dollar in Shelby County. Pretty soon it could cost about a dollar and ten cents. If county voters approve a sales tax increase on the November ballot, then it’ll happen.
Half the money raised will go toward education, the other half to Shelby County cities and towns. County Commissioner Mike Ritz says the city was going to put a sales tax increase on the ballot, and if it was successful the city would have kept the money. They can legally do that. But the county plan would spread out the dough, and Memphis would end up with about $23 million. “That’s a lot of money for the city,” says Ritz, “…and I think they ought to be thankful we’re looking out for the schools and they’re not.”
$23 million is not $43 million, however, so already some Memphis politicians are trying to get some county commissioners to change their minds on the sales tax ballot plan.
Meanwhile, County Mayor Mark Luttrell doesn’t like the sales tax plan at all. He wants commissioners to follow procedures, and then if they needed a tax increase for schools, that’s when they would ask for one. “To consider a tax increase in anticipation of what we think the cost is going to be,” Luttrell said, “…is not an appropriate way to budget.”
Luttrell is talking about possibly smacking a big veto on the commission's plan. He’s only used the veto two times since entering office. It takes eight county commissioners to override the veto, and Mike Ritz thinks the votes are there. “If he (Luttrell) is going to get involved, “Ritz says, “…good. But he has not, and the county commissioners are the ones that have to raise the taxes and we make the appropriations for the schools.”
Luttrell has until August 23rd to decide whether to veto the plan. Right now, he says, he’s leaning toward a veto.