Resolution asks for negotiation on school buildings - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Resolution asks for negotiation on school buildings

Shelby County commissioners want the county mayor to take action when it comes to paying for school buildings and the unified school district. Shelby County commissioners want the county mayor to take action when it comes to paying for school buildings and the unified school district.

(WMC-TV) – Shelby County commissioners want the county mayor to take action when it comes to paying for school buildings and the unified school district.

County commissioners called a special meeting to revisit a resolution that failed at the regular meeting on Monday.

It's a resolution they hope will prevent them from having to hand over school property to municipalities that start their own school districts.

A majority of Shelby County commissioners passed a resolution Friday asking county Mayor Mark Luttrell to help them negotiate the future of county school buildings.

"So that the interest of our taxpayers will be protected regarding our assets," said Commissioner Walter Bailey.

Proponents of a resolution argue the commission needs to make sure municipalities that decide to form their own school districts will have to pay fair market value for existing schools buildings.

It's a move that had the support of some local pastors

"To give schools away is not being responsible fiscally and so I think this is a wise move," said Pastor Noel Hutchinson, of First Baptist Church Lauderdale.

But opponents accuse their colleagues of playing politics at the expense of children.

"They were okay for 50 years having the City of Memphis get schools for free, but now all of a sudden when it's the suburban areas, they want to stick it to them," said Commissioner Chris Thomas.

"This battle is going to keep rolling on and on and I don't think keeping them from getting the school buildings is the answer," said Commissioner Terry Roland.

Those who voted in favor of the resolution are concerned the county mayor doesn't share their sense of urgency.

"I'm concerned about it because at the end of the day I've got to vote on the tax rate and so do you commissioners," said Commissioner Mike Ritz. The mayor doesn't have to vote on the tax rate."

Lutrell said he is concerned, but he's not going to get bogged down with municipal school districts that don't even exist yet.

"It's very complex and we've got to get the two school systems talking the same language so that we can understand the complexities of how the money falls out," he said.

The commission voted seven to five in favor of the resolution.

It failed on Monday when Commissioner James Harvey left the meeting to catch a plane before the vote was called.

Friday his yes vote tipped the scales.

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