Protestors rally against consolidation

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Protestors who gathered outside of Memphis City Hall Friday wanted to make it clear they do not want the City of Memphis and Shelby County governments to consolidate.

Democrats and Republicans came together, both sides united against consolidation.

"I appreciate everyone unifying," said Jon Crisp with Save Shelby Now. "This is probably the true rainbow coalition standing right here."

People both for and against consolidation cite the same issues. For instance, both disagree about what consolidation would do to jobs.

"Consolidation would eliminate jobs at this particularly time," said Memphis City Council member Joe Brown.

Executive Director of Rebuild Government Brian Stephens said Fred Smith supports consolidation because he said it would improve the climate for business, and therefore create jobs.

"He figured out it was the best thing to create change and an economic engine," said Stephens. "Create jobs for this community."

Another issue those for and against consolidation disagree on is taxes.

"Under this charter, people who live in the city of Memphis will continue to pay taxes that people who don't live in the city of Memphis won't have to pay," said Memphis School Board member Kenneth Whalum.

Proponents of consolidation said taxes have gone down in the cities that have consolidated.

"Businesses do not want to come to the high tax area, they want to go to where the taxes are low," said Stephens. "We can't be competitive unless we get more efficiencies in our government."

Another factor is fear.

"Don't believe the hype," said Whalum. "This is just another hype for some forces to come in and take over Memphis."

"They're afraid. I was afraid, I didn't understand it, and so I was against it," said Stephens. "Get your education, learn more, and listen to the people who are creating jobs and building opportunities in this community."

Shelby County residents can have their say on consolidation right now. Early voting is underway until October 28. For a list of voting times and locations, click here.

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