MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell is warning homeowners again: brace for an increase in Shelby County property taxes. The Unified School District's $90 million deficit is to blame.
It's not going to be pretty, but Mayor Luttrell doesn't see any way to avoid a tax increase.
"I think we can expect a tax increase," Luttrell said. As for how substantial of an increase, he replied, "It's hard to say at this point."
If Mark Luttrell was a mechanic, you could ask for an estimate. But he's a county mayor who isn't sure what this new school budget will look like. Although so far, he's not very happy with what he's seen. Any budget with a $90 million deficit will quickly turn a smile into a frown.
"I'm hoping we're going to see some improvement in their estimates going forward. What they're asking for is a significant amount of money and I think, quite frankly, might be beyond our range to meet."
Mayor Luttrell is a word-mincer. What he's basically saying is there is no way the Unified School Board will get what it's asking for.
Not to mention that homes are being reassessed this year. For the first time since the great depression, the homes in Shelby County are almost all going down in value.
So take this homes thing and toss in the feelings of some school board members who want to submit a budget asking for everything, and you'll understand why the mayor isn't smiling much these days.
"Well, I think the school system is abdicating its responsibility. The elected school board - elected by the citizens of this community - has a fiduciary responsibility to come up with a budget. I think they need to think it over, determine what's practical, what meets the needs of our children and then submit that."
The mayor and others will get a preview of the budget in a couple of weeks. Watch for this one; you can already sense a fight brewing.