Mayor defends his property tax hike proposal - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayor defends his property tax hike proposal

(WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is defending his proposed property tax hike and how he presented his budget to the Memphis City Council Tuesday.

Wharton claims the criticism comes with the territory.

Memphis council members did not take Mayor A C Wharton's budget hearing exit well when the mayor did not entertain a question and answer session.

"All of us sitting around this table recognized what went on, and I'm going to tell you that I'm not satisfied with that," said Memphis Councilman Harold Collins.

The mayor shared his thoughts on the matter Wednesday.

"I say this with a smile on my face. I mean this. This is a democracy. They have their roles to carry out. This is checks and balances. They're supposed to do that," said Wharton.

Council members had burning questions about the mayor's proposed 28 cent property tax hike.

The mayor said he would not have concrete answers, since the tax assessment is not yet certified.

"Until the assessor tells us precisely how many pennies we need, it's subject to change," said Wharton.

Council members said a tax increase is inappropriate with the mayor also wanting to restore half of the employees' 4.6 percent pay cut.

"We're still shrinking the size of government. Fewer employees," said Wharton.

He said the city is required to keep revenues at the base level to run government.

The budget this year is $622.5 million. It was $648.5 million last year.

"Had it not been for the drastic reduction in property values, we would not be discussing any rate changes at all on the taxes," said Wharton.

The mayor said most taxpayers would not notice a hike. Your tax bill would have been lower due to your lower property values.

Public budget hearings begin in the coming weeks.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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