Memphis City Council debates tax that was never collected - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Council debates levying tax that was never collected

The Memphis City Council voted on a plan that would increase property taxes in order to pay for money the city still owes the schools. The problem is, the tax should have already been collected. The Memphis City Council voted on a plan that would increase property taxes in order to pay for money the city still owes the schools. The problem is, the tax should have already been collected.

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis City Council voted on a plan that would increase property taxes in order to pay for money the city still owes the schools. The problem is, the tax should have already been collected.

Last year, the council approved a one-time, 18 cent tax to pay for city schools, but the item was back on the agenda Tuesday, and the council has a new face.

Council members say the mayor sent mixed messages by first cutting employee salaries, then giving employees a Christmas bonus while the city was experiencing a budget shortfall.

"This is going to be a big imposition on a lot of Memphians," said Council member Lee Harris. "And before we take that step, we've got to be very serious and very sober-minded."

Harris wasn't on the council in 2008 when they cut the 18-cent school tax to stop double-taxation of Memphis property owners.

And he wasn't there when the tax was temporarily reinstated.

Now, council members are confused about why the city never collected the tax and why it's back on the agenda.

"I'm befuddled and I'm shocked," Harris said. "I'm trying to figure out what's going on."

The city administration said legal wrangling between the city council and schools delayed the tax levy last year.

Council Chairman Bill Morrison put the item back on the agenda, but has not said why.

Meanwhile, Memphis CAO George Little said the mayor will bring options before the council.

"We continue to see the need for the tax to be adopted as was contemplated in the original budget," Little said. "That said, we're going to engage in discussions with council. We're going to bring back a menu of possible cuts that we might adopt."

Little said the city has already implemented a hiring freeze, as it deals with the shortfall and increasing costs.

"There's got to be more dialogue," Harris said. "There's got to be more serious discussion, more deliberation."

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