Shelby Co. mayor proposes deep budget cuts, hike in wheel tax

Spending cuts, vehicle registration fee hike possible in Shelby County budget

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s going to be a tight budget year. Mayor Lee Harris says he has no choice but to propose cuts.

The $1.4 billion budget I propose to you today is lean and balanced,” said Harris Monday during his presentation to Shelby County Commissioners.

The mayor says he’s managed to not increase property taxes, despite the expectation for property tax revenue to decline by $8.6 million in the fiscal year 2021.

The mayor’s 2021 budget proposes $13.5 million in cuts.

“The budget does propose that we refocus County government in light of the moment that we are in,” said Harris.

Education, public safety and public health are some of the areas the mayor is shifting his focus to. Harris is proposing four million dollars for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

That money will help hire 30 new deputies to cover the de-annexed areas re-entering the County.

The budget calls to fully fund the Shelby County health department and adding a COVID-19 emergency fund for families hit hardest by the virus.

Approximately $427 million dollars would go towards fully funding education and an additional $33 million for school construction needs.

The mayor proposing a new fee to help pay for education by increasing the vehicle registration fee or more commonly known as the wheel tax.

Once the government re-opens, drivers could pay an additional $16.50 to register their car. Drivers currently pay a $50 wheel tax.

Shelby Co. officials to discuss wheel tax increase for transportation

Earlier this year commissioners proposed increasing the wheel tax to pay for public transportation.

Mayor Lee Harris is now proposing the increase to help pay for education which is what the wheel tax is designated to pay for initially.

County commissioners also approved a hiring and spending freeze until June 30 of this year.

Mayor Harris says he will meet with county elected officials in the coming days to discuss potential cuts to their office’s budget.

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