Property tax hike expected in Shelby Co. - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Property tax hike expected in Shelby Co.

(WMC-TV) -

(WMC-TV) - Everyone in Shelby County should expect a property tax hike this year, according to Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

Job growth, education, the budget, and property tax appraisals were just some of the topics Luttrell discussed while delivering his annual State of the County address at a Wednesday afternoon Kiwanis Club luncheon.

The mayor said he is not authoring any property tax proposals, but in order to pay for everything, he suggests Shelby County braces itself for the very real possibility.

"I think the reality of it is that we probably will have a tax increase," he said. "When you look at the demands we have in this community. Education. Schools. Law enforcement. Yes, of course, property appraisals, I think we can expect a tax increase."

It is just an assessment, not a proposal, but it is based on projections.

Property taxes account for 60-percent of all county revenue. Property appraisals are likely to drop between 5 and 10 percent bringing in a total of just under $700 million, 90 percent of which funds criminal justice, debt service, and education.

The Unified School Board is in the process of trying to hammer out a budget, but Mayor Luttrell says the board needs to be more practical than what's been discussed thus far.

"I'm hoping we're going to see some improvement in their estimates going forward. What they're asking for is a significant amount of money and I think quite frankly might be beyond our range to meet," he said.

The mayor says he is scheduled to meet with Superintendent John Aitken later this week and he hopes to discuss the matter in more depth at that time, especially as he looks for an extra $68 million in school funds that will not be coming from the City of Memphis anymore.

He also hopes to find a way to decrease the projected $36 million deficit in the school systems in 2013.

"We're still in a good strong vibrant community. There's nothing that keeps me up at night," said the Shelby County mayor. "There are challenges when I get up in the morning that we're facing. But we're not dealing with any situation here in our community that urban America is not facing across the United States."

He continued, "My message today is one of sober reality with hopeful strategies for getting us to where we want to be."

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