Mayors opposed to giving school boards taxing authority

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Elected city, county, and school leaders have been talking for weeks, trying to come up with ways to solve the school funding crisis in Memphis and Shelby County. But the latest plan has mayors from both Memphis and Shelby County raising a red flag.

"The boards of education are talking. County commissioners are talking. Mayor Wharton and I, we also are involved in the discussions," Memphis mayor Willie Herenton said Friday.
But an idea came up Thursday night in the latest school funding forum that both mayors appose - giving school boards the authority to tax the public.

"I have not yet been convinced that is absolutely critical or essential to the reform we need in the schools," Wharton said.  
"I think we need to be very careful in providing any other legislative body with taxing authority," Herenton said. 
Both mayors like the idea of a single source that  funds all the schools in Memphis and Shelby County, but allowing school boards taxing authority is a step they are not ready to take.

"I understand the school board's issues. They want to be held accountable but to have another taxing authority. I don't think it's in the interest of the public," Herenton said.
"Whether it's a good idea or not, I do not sense the support for that in the legislature," Wharton said.

Without state support, the issue is moot. Nonetheless, elected leaders will continue discussing any and all ways to solve school funding for the future.

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