MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Mayor A C Wharton says a sales tax increase in Memphis is desperately needed. The mayor says cuts made by the city council during the budget meetings could hurt the city's credit rating.
He wants a sales tax increase to help pad the Memphis reserve fund, which is a savings account for emergencies.
As you'd expect, people aren't thrilled about the idea.
With a sales tax of only seven percent, DeSoto County, Mississippi calls out to Memphians. Shop here, save money - and they do.
Memphian Cheryl Hunt shops in DeSoto County, "Especially with higher priced items or if I buy something in a bigger quantity, the sales tax is cheaper. Or if I buy a lot of groceries, the sales tax will be cheaper. Sometimes I do make a choice to come down here."
Mayor Wharton and Councilman Shea Flinn might soon become the best friends a DeSoto County business owner ever had. Both want to raise the sales tax. It would go up from nine and a quarter to almost 10 percent. It would mean for every dollar you spend, you'd be charged almost a dime in sales tax.
The mayor wants it, and wants you to vote for it.
"I'm going to get behind that. This is one thing I hope I can join hands with employees, unions and neighborhood groups and show them how it will be used," Wharton said. "We really need that money to provide a cushion."
Mayor Wharton would have had a hard time selling this plan to the folks we talked with.
"I always come down to Southaven because it's convenient and taxes are much cheaper," said Memphis resident Vickie Martin. When asked if she would vote for the sales tax increase, she replied, "Absolutely not."
People who live in this city and shop in Mississippi say sales tax increase in Memphis, forget about it.
Barbara Weaks of Memphis asked, "How can you raise taxes when the economy is bad? People are out of work, barely getting unemployment and you want to raise property taxes, sales taxes?"
If this plan goes through and if people vote for the increase, Memphis will have the highest sales tax of any major city in Tennessee.
Suburban voters in Shelby County will vote in August on whether they want their towns to start their own school systems. If so, their sales taxes will increase to the same amount as Memphis, but all the money will be used for education.