Sales tax hike proposed as possible solution to cuts - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sales tax hike proposed as possible solution to cuts

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If voters want to go for a half-cent tax hike on the referendum, then Mayor Wharton says he will support the voters' decision. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) If voters want to go for a half-cent tax hike on the referendum, then Mayor Wharton says he will support the voters' decision. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) – A half-cent sales tax hike was proposed as a possible solution to the cuts that were made to city employees' health care, but it could be a long process in what some people say is a much needed fix.

Memphis police officers and Memphis firefighters responded to the city council's cuts to their health care by calling in sick. The health care cuts affect both groups and their families.

If voters want to go for a half-cent tax hike on the referendum, then Mayor Wharton says he will support the voters' decision. However, he did not propose this hike himself. 

The half-cent tax hike proposal must first be approved by the city council. It will then be put on a ballot for voters to decide on the tax hike.

"Whether it will pass or not, I do not know, but who can ever really speak against saying let the voters speak. They are the ones who have been impacted," he said.

Earlier this week the city announced a free clinic as part of the solution to the health cuts. It will allow employees, retirees, and their families to get free healthcare. The clinic is set to open in October.

Wharton released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

I want to restate my support of the budget I presented and that was passed by the Memphis City Council in mid-June.

I want to ensure it is understood by all parties and citizens that I am not proposing a sales tax increase. I respect the people's right vote. But, it is necessary that everyone understand that for us to comply with state law and move forward in addressing our issues with pension and healthcare reform, we must implement the plan we have outlined in the budget resolution as passed.

I should add that we are working diligently to strengthen the healthcare safety net put in place to provide assistance as needed to our retirees. For instance, all line of duty disability retirees will remain in the current city plan.

I appreciate the input we have received from citizens, employees, and labor representatives over the last several months. It is, however, time for us to move forward to assure that our employees and all of our retirees are informed, assisted, and covered in the context of the budget and plan we have right now.

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