Memphis City Council kills one time tax increase - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis City Council kills one time tax increase

The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday not to pass a one-time tax hike for city residents. Instead, the city will make budget cuts. The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday not to pass a one-time tax hike for city residents. Instead, the city will make budget cuts.

(WMC-TV) – The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday not to pass a one-time tax hike for city residents. Instead, the city will make budget cuts.

Instead of a tax increase, the council voted to dip into the reserves, freeze hiring - except for  police, cut some operating costs and eliminate some grant funds.

The dialogue led to a tense exchange in an earlier committee meeting between Councilman Kemp Conrad and the mayor.

Tuesday, Conrad criticized the mayor's proposal to close this year's budget shortfall with a one-time 18 cent tax bill.

"One-time money gimmicks, tax increases, tax bills that are authorized and never levied, programs to take care of longtime workers and also get efficiencies never implemented nine months in the making," said Conrad. "It's some of the loosest management I've ever seen."

The underlying tension comes from Conrad's idea to buyout city sanitation workers, a touchy subject after Martin Luther King, Jr., died during Memphis' sanitation worker strike in the 1960s.

Conrad says if the mayor had carried out the buyout, the city would not have a $17 million shortfall.

"Obviously, no one is ever anxious to do a tax increase and only because of the sheer necessity did we request that," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

The mayor has no hard feelings for Conrad.

"Those are his convictions," Wharton said. "I respect that. He is correct; adjustments have to be made. The question is how quickly can we make them?"

Wharton says the infrastructure of Memphis government has been in place more than 40 years.

"it's very difficult to unravel and reform all of that in a year, two year's time," he said.

The council cut the school tax by 18 cents back in 2008 to stop double taxation of Memphis residents.

"I could turn the table and say why did you cut the tax rate but still continue to fund the schools at the level they requested? It's not going to get us anywhere," said Wharton.

A stipulation of the agreement was to do away with the city's voluntary retirement program.

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