Taxpayers angry about Trustee mailer - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taxpayers angry about Trustee mailer

A brochure being mailed inside Shelby County Property Tax bills has some people fired up. 

Shelby County Trustee Bob Patterson says his brochure is just a useful pamphlet for County taxpayers.  But some taxpayers disagree - and they want to know why their elected Trustee is using tax bills to distribute what they call campaign flyers.

Ted Strom got it in the mail like everybody else.  "Looks like a campaign flyer to me," he says.

The pamphlet from Trustee Bob Patterson came with his Shelby County tax bill and it arrived the day before early voting, seven months before his taxes are actually due.  "It just doesn't seem right to me that my tax dollars are being used to send out this guy's campaign flyer."

Patterson is running for re-election.  The pamphlet says nothing about his race, but it features a picture of him on the front cover and on the inside, amid other information about how homeowners can pay their tax bill on time.  A message on the front flap reads "paying taxes just got easier."

"It looks like a campaign flyer to me.  It's got his smiling face inside as well and it's got all kinds of information about things we've already had in service for a long time," says Strom.

Patterson says the brochure is harmless.  "If you'll look at the picture on that piece of literature and you look at the one that was sent out last year, it's the same picture.  We just use it over and over and over," he says.

The Trustee - it turns out - has used a picture of himself on the tax brochure every year dating back to 2003.  And the timing of the mailer - he says - is based on Shelby County Commissioners and their approval of the tax rate.

"You have to collect $691 million within 12 months.  So every day you can add on that collection cycle, your chances of achieving that is better."

He says it is not a campaign stunt.

Patterson points out the Shelby County Commission adopted its tax rate on Wednesday.  The tax bills went out that day.

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