Shelby County commissioners could vote to cut public services - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County commissioners could vote to cut public services

(WMC-TV) - Taxpayers across Shelby County are bracing to pay more for their homes now that a Shelby County Commission committee approved a 40 cent tax hike. But behind-the-scenes wrangling could force the county administration to cut services instead.

Though the tax increase passed in committee Wednesday, it might not pass when the gavel drops July 8. When it goes to the full commission, it needs seven votes to pass and one or more commissioners may not be voting.

When the committee voted, a new variable came into play.

The tax hike vote needs the approval of at least seven commissioners to pass, but two are not voting and one is being pressured to abstain.

"I'm not going to discount the possibility it might fail or it might pass," said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

Shelby County Commissioner Sydney Chism said he will not vote because he owns a Memphis daycare and now that Memphis schools have merged with the county, he cannot vote on his own budget.

Harvey did not say why he was abstaining, but he did ask the mayor's office to look for more efficiencies first.

"I have drastic concerns about the tax rate increase," said Harvey.

The county attorney opined that Commissioner Melvin Burgess can vote as long as he discloses that he is a current auditor for the school system. But, at least one of his peers is pushing to prevent his final vote.

"I've got an opinion coming from the state attorney general," said Commissioner Terry Roland.

Mayor Mark Luttrell said he has already reduced the size of government $10 million in the last three years.

"If you're going to cut, you have to cut public safety and public health," he said. He also said that he is bracing for any outcome. "If the tax rate doesn't make it, we'll just go back to the table and we'll work something out."

The commission will take a final vote on the tax rate July 8.

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