Tax rate debate heats up - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tax rate debate heats up

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Commissioners had a six-hour showdown laced with high emotion this week.  At issue: setting the new tax rate.

"It's like one bird in one hand and ten in the bush," homeowner Pearlie Jackson said.

Homeowners are just as torn as commissioners.

Here's why: most home values in Tennessee are higher after this year's reappraisal, so the state certified a flat property tax rate at four dollars to keep your property taxes from shooting up too high.

The Shelby County Commission is debating a $4.02 property tax rate.  It's less than the current $4.04 rate, but more than the state requires.

"I think it's kind of B.S., if I can say that," county resident Chris Sexton said. "I think it should be the state's decision."

Shelby County's recent home reappraisals are, in part, what makes the issue confusing to some residents.  While people with higher home values will pay higher property taxes, people with decreased home values will see savings.

"I understand how it works and it would be good for some and bad for others," Sexton said.

The current proposal on the table means the county would lay off 65 workers as opposed to 100 workers, which means the Shelby County Sheriff's Department won't take such a big hit.

"I know they have to let maybe some go, but I they need to keep everybody," Jackson said.

Real estate experts like Brandon Kamm of Revid Realty say tax rates don't usually impact home sales, but it's a different story for renters.

"It's going to make it more expensive, and in turn, rents may get more expensive, and in turn, rents may get raised on renters," Kamm said.

The $4.02 property tax proposal failed in committee 6-5 - it needs seven votes to win.  That means there are three more readings of the property tax rate, and they're sure to be just as intense.

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