SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris is proposing a $1.4 billion budget for fiscal year 2022. It includes no increase in property taxes and no major cuts.
Wednesday’s presentation was Harris’ first for his proposed fiscal year 2022 budget to Shelby County Commissioners. While not increasing property taxes, he plans for millions to go to early pre-k and pre-k options, as well as pensions, inmate mental health services and the Shelby County Fire Department.
“The $1.4 billion budget I propose to you today is balanced, it contains no property tax increase, it contains no cuts,” said Harris to Shelby County commissioners.
Harris’ budget includes hundreds of pages of where he’d like to see $1.4 billion go. It includes a 1.5 percent raise to Shelby County government employees, and raising employees’ minimum wage to $15.29/hour. It also dedicates more than $50 million to the pension fund.
The main focus of Harris’ proposal is fixing the county’s rainy day fund which took a hit during the pandemic.
“To get our fiscal house in order we will bring fourth several actions to allow us to make a substantial $19 million contribution to our rainy day fund,” said Harris.
Harris said money from the CARES act helped the county avoid some of the worst potential economic losses during the pandemic.
“There’s still pain in our community so I do not believe it’s time to raise taxes,” said Harris. “This is not the time to raise taxes because too many are still on the road to recovery given the pandemic’s effects.”
As for public health, the budget proposed keeping all health personnel with the COVID-19 response team as is. For public education more than $400 million is set aside for schools and $8.5 million for early pre-k and pre-k programs.
As public safety, Harris outlines a commitment to a multi-year $32 million investment to the Shelby County Fire Department. That would include two new firehouses, one near South Cordova and the other in Southeast Shelby County.
The proposal will come under much discussion with the Shelby County Commission before approval.
“We as an elected body we will add and subtract as we see necessary as well,” said Commissioner Reginald Milton.
The next discussion is happening during committee meetings on May 5.
“My concern is the money keeps growing and I’m asking where is the money coming from,” said Finance Committee Chair Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr.
This budget should be approved by the end of the fiscal year which is June 30.