UPDATED: Memphis City Council votes on MCS funding

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - During their meeting Tuesday evening, Memphis City Council members approved a calculation to fund Memphis City Schools that would not raise taxes.
The 30-10-10 plan would take $30 million out of the city reserves and give it to the schools, cut $10 million from the city budget and give that to the schools, and give the city a credit of $10 million from the schools from a balance they owe the city.
Previously, the Memphis City School Board turned down that offer.  They will have to vote again on this proposal before it is approved.
The courts say the city owes the schools $50 million dollars and is required to fund schools each year.

Memphis City Council member Jim Strickland proposed the plan approved by Council members, which was not popular with everyone during a committee meeting Tuesday.

"This is the same thing that has already been rejected," council member Barbara Ware said. "So, for me, this is old soup warmed over."

Ware said Strickland's plan does not fall in line with a recent court decision requiring the city to provide annual funding for the school system.

"They're saying, 'You pay us, so we can pay you.'  That's not what the court says.  The court says, 'Pay the money'," Ware said.

Meanwhile, Memphis City Schools filed a second lawsuit against the city, saying the city put MCS in jeopardy by breaching its financial obligation.

Councilman Shea Flinn said the new lawsuit is bittersweet.

"The second lawsuit, I think, was somewhat premature of them, but on the flip side it's another bite at the apple for us to make the case for double taxation," he said.

You might recall the council voted to lower property taxes by 18 cents last year, to make the point that Memphis pays twice as much for property taxes than any other municipality in Shelby County.  Tuesday, Ware said the council should just add the 18-cents back to property taxes and pay up.

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