Tax hike support sparks debate at Shelby BOE meeting

Possible Tax Hike Support Sparks Debate At Shelby BOE Meeting

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – The 23 members of the Shelby County School Board can all agree on one thing.

"We've got to fund education and find a way to fund education," said Chairman Billy Orgill.

But they disagreed Tuesday on supporting an official resolution backing the half-cent sales tax proposal on the November ballot.

"We're saying this is a good thing for our kids," said Dr. Jeff Warren.  "Please help us with it, it goes to all the kids."

Much of the support came from members of the former Memphis city school board.

"I believe the parents and children in this community deserve a half cent," said board member Patrice Robinson.

If passed, the added tax would raise some $30 million for the school district which could use it to help fund Pre-K.  However, some suburban board members still believe cuts should come first.

"We need to force ourselves to make hard decisions to create an efficient district," said David Reaves.

They believe municipalities that voted to fund their own school districts would be unfairly burdened.

"I will be standing in opposition to this resolution because I think it pits urban versus suburban interests," said David Pickler.

"I think it's laughable that you would say this is pitting one against the other when it's actually the opposite sir," replied Tomeka Hart.

Reverend Kenneth Whalum opposes any tax hike as long as the city still owes the district $57 million.

"I'm not voting for a half cent or a quarter cent to put on the backs of poor people struggling already," said Whalum.

The actual vote on the resolution will take place during next week's board meeting.  So, there could be even more debate.

Meanwhile, anticipated talk concerning the possible closure of more than 20 schools did not come up Tuesday night because the issue needs more research.

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