Memphians could face property tax hike - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphians could face property tax hike

(WMC-TV) – A property tax hike could be looming for the city of Memphis. This comes as the city juggles public safety, pension costs, and a tight budget.

Mayor A C Wharton says if the city faces a shortfall due to pension obligations mandated by the state, he would choose to raise taxes versus cutting public safety.

"When it comes down to public safety, when we get to the point where Director Armstrong says, 'Mayor, that's one change we cannot make,' that's when we stop," said Wharton.

Memphis taxpayers identify with the city's dilemma.

"It's hard right now ... What we need to do and what decision we need to make as a taxpayer," said Memphis resident Sharon Estes.

This comes as the city wrangles with union leaders over pension cuts. The mayor says employees need to foot more of the pension costs by converting the program to a 401(k) plan.

But if the state requires the city to fully fund pensions, then the city says a tax hike could be the only alternative that could bring in enough money to fill the $80 million budget gap.

"You should because the city needs to be protected; individuals need to be protected. If you'll have to pay a little more, you just have to pay a little more," said resident Michael Gee.

The Memphis City Council raised the city property tax rate last year from $3.11 to $3.40 for every $100 of assessed property value.

Many taxpayers whose property values went down did not feel the hike, but taxpayers whose values went up did. The taxpayers Action News 5 caught up with Wednesday said they would be willing to come out of pocket to feel safe.

"This is a priority. We all want to feel comfortable and safe," said Estes.

The mayor will proposes his budget on Tax Day in April.

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