Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell presents balanced budget

(WMC-TV) – Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell presented his budget to the Shelby County Commission with no tax increases and no layoffs.

The question now is what will the budget look like when Memphis and Shelby County Schools merge next August?

Luttrell presented a balanced budget with a one percent increase for employees.  

He said a successful refinance cut the long term debt, but he is bracing for what the budget will look like when city and county schools merge.

"We are presenting a balanced budget, no tax increase, continuing to pay down our debt," said Luttrell.

Shelby County Commissioners lauded Luttrell for a successful 2013 budget without layoffs.

"We'll continue to downsize government through the attrition process," said Luttrell.

The budget comes without school construction, a major expense.

"We are not this year recommending any capital expenditures for schools for obvious reasons," said Luttrell.  "We want to wait and see how the transition takes place before we commit any funds in that area."

Luttrell said he will know more about funding in the summer, when the Unified Schools Transition Planning Commission releases its plan for the merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools.

"We don't know if we are going to be able to come in and provide the type of budget that shows increase," said Luttrell.  "I would say I'm not prepared to just automatically assume there's going to be a significant increase."

After the budget presentation, the mayor fielded questions from commissioners.

"I've heard MLGW hasn't been charging schools for water all this time, but now they are going to charge the unified schools," said Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.

"There was a provision in the MLGW charter to provide free water to the city school system, and when the city school system ceases to exist, the obligation goes away," responded Luttrell.

Commissioner Henri Brooks said more crime prevention should be included in the 56 percent of county funds dedicated to criminal justice.

"A criminal justice prevention initiative to keep people from going through that revolving door," said Brooks.

Commissioner Roland warned that taxes will increase for everyone in the county when the schools merge.  For now, that is speculation.

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