MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A merged Memphis and Shelby County Schools could be $60 million short the first year in operation. The big question is how to pay for it. Truth is the group working on the merger hopes Memphis will belly up almost half that amount.
One of the reasons Memphis residents voted to give up the city schools charter is because they were sick of paying twice for education, once on their city taxes, and again on their county taxes.
A 21-member team has spent nine months and more than 400 hours coming up with a plan to merge the two school systems. Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald is on the Transition Planning Commission, known as the TPC.
He said, "There's some real funding challenges that have to be faced."
To fill a nearly $60 million budget shortfall, TPC hopes the city will cough up $29 million in cash and services.
City Councilman Jim Strickland said, "I think it's a hard sell not only for the council but with the public."
Strickland says the idea of Memphis residents continuing to pay probably won't go over well.
"The public only wants to pay one tax for schools; that's their county taxes. They don't want to be double taxed," Strickland said.
Even if the city does pay up, truth is the merged school system will be short by millions. That means either cuts in school services or a county property tax hike.
According to mayor McDonald, "there's really not enough money to do everything everybody thinks needs to be done to have a world class system."
In addition to asking the city to pay up, another option is asking the state for money. Truth is that's probably not going to happen either.