Council committee agrees to fund schools without a tax increase

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis City Council committee agreed Tuesday to fund Memphis City Schools without a tax increase.

It was a shocking new development with the two sides still in court over the issue, and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton didn't hold back when asked about the vote.

Wharton said a Memphis City Council committee did the right thing by approving $50 million in funding for MCS.

"It's just the right thing to do," he said.

The decision comes amid a longstanding court battle between the Memphis City Council and Memphis City Schools.

"I've handled a lot of divorce cases, and a husband and wife might fight for five years over who should get the leather sofa or the dog," Wharton said. "But the children should not want for anything because mom and dad are acting childish."

The committee agreed on the deal, as long as there's no tax increase.  But Wharton says the overall issue of who should fund city schools will not be resolved in the halls of the city.

"The compromise we worked out allows us to pursue those issues because they'll come up again," he said.

The city council originally cut school funding from the budget because Memphis property owners are double-taxed.  They pay for both city and county schools.  The schools took them to court.  Council members argue the county should pay for both school systems.

"The courts will have to resolve that," Wharton said. "We don't know when that will be, but we're all bound to follow the law, and like it or not, two courts have said 'You owe those folks some money.'"

Here's how the city plans to break it down:

  • They'll give the schools $20 million on May 1
  • Another $20 million on June 1
  • Another $10 million on October 1

And remember, that just pays for last year.  They still have to pay the same amount for the current fiscal year.

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