City leaders consider Memphis-only sales tax hike

City leaders consider Memphis-only sales tax hike

(WMC-TV) - Shelby County voters said 'no' to a sales tax increase. Now, Memphis is going to give voters a chance to make anyone shopping in the Bluff City pay an increased sales tax.

The idea of a Memphis-only sales tax hike was still on the back burner when voters turned down the 'countywide' sales tax hike.

But the idea is cooking once again.

"I had a brief conversation with Mayor Wharton about it," said Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn.

Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn says a half-cent, Memphis-only sales tax hike is not so dead in the water.

"There's a six-month freeze on it, but it could come back as early as May," said Flinn.

The countywide sales tax hike failed at the polls on November 6.

"We rode the horse we had, not necessarily the one we wanted. Now, we've got to see, given the margin of defeat, whether or not we go forward with the Memphis-only one we originally intended," said Flinn.

Flinn says people voted on the cost of a 'yes' vote and not the cost of a 'no' vote.

He says a rude awakening will come next May, when Memphians get their first glimpse at the seriousness of the city's upcoming budget pressures.

"There are service reductions or property taxes now," explained Flinn.

That is because lower housing values mean Memphis has a lot less money to work with next year.

Next spring, the city council will consider if taxpayers should fund a special election to tax themselves.

"If you go into it as a dead man walking, there's no point in doing it," said Flinn.

But Flinn says the money will have to come from somewhere. he says Memphis cannot afford higher property taxes, which are already the highest in the state.

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