Shelby County mayor explains possible property tax hike - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County mayor explains possible property tax hike

(WMC-TV) - Shelby County is facing a financial storm that could shower homeowners with a property tax increase.

Mayor Mark Luttrell says there are only two ways out of this mess and one of those involves a tax hike.

"I don't mind paying more for property taxes if it's going to something useful and good, but I don't like throwing money in a hole," said Shelby County resident Eric Remsen.

Shelby County residents are daunted by the thought of a property tax hike.

"Some people are just getting by so they're not able to do it at a time like this," said Justine Anderson, who also lives in Shelby County.

But Mayor Mark Luttrell says county government is facing an unprecedented financial dilemma.

"This is the first time really in our lifetime we've seen a devaluation in property and that's what we rely on primarily for our revenue," he said.

The property tax assessor says the numbers show a 4.6 percent drop in property values, which means the government has that much less money to run the operation.

The county is also taking on school funding, and this year the City of Memphis is not required to contribute the usual $65 million.

"We've got a huge gap we've got to work on," said Mayor Luttrell.

The county must also fund the Juvenile Court Criminal Defense Fund, after the Department of Justice required oversight of the system criticized for treating African-American and Latino youth harsher than whites.

"We need to drastically reduce services, which would include critical services, or increase taxes," explained the mayor.

Financial experts say the numbers indicate property values will rebound next year, but the mayor says that is just speculation.

The budget must be balanced this year.

The Shelby County Commission will continue meeting to find a solution by June 30.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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