Memphis City Council debate raising sales tax

(WMC-TV) – The Memphis City Council has a new plan to bring more money into the city.

Council members are talking about raising the city's sales tax.

With a proposed property tax increase still on the table, the Memphis mayor and city council are looking for another way to ask taxpayers if they are willing to pay more to live in the city.

Councilman Shea Flinn is looking for a permanent revenue stream to take a bite out of next year's city budget.

"I think the sales tax is the appropriate place to start the conversation because it's the one where the people have a direct voice," said Flinn.

He is working with Mayor A C Wharton on an ordinance that would let Memphians vote on whether to raise the local sales tax by a half of a cent.

Mayor Wharton says if the council approves the ordinance, the issue will be on the November ballot. A projected revenue of $47 million would be earmarked for cleaning up blight city wide.

Proponents say a sales tax is the only way to collect revenue from out-of-towners.

Council chairman Bill Morrison can support the idea, if it is accompanied by a 47 cent decrease in property taxes.

"I would actually love to see that as part of the ordinance so that voters would know that if I vote yes to this my property tax will go down," said Morrison over the phone.

The mayor and city council will meet to discuss the ordinance in executive session on Tuesday.

If approved by the voters in November the increase would take effect July of 2013.

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