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Council member who proposed tax increase hasn’t paid his own taxes

City council budget
City council budget
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 7:14 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis City Council gave final approval to the city’s budget Tuesday afternoon and defeated an effort to increase property taxes.

Memphis City Councilman Martavius Jones had been pushing for the city to spend more on public services and proposed the tax increase.

But city and county records WMC Action News 5 reviewed show Jones hasn’t paid all of his taxes.

Records show Jones, a financial advisor, owes more than $6,000 on at least three properties he owns.

All of Jones’ outstanding taxes are from the last couple of years, dating back to 2019.

“When I pay them, the city will receive more,” Jones said.

When asked when he plans to pay the taxes, Jones refused to answer, although he told the Commercial Appeal he planned to pay his back taxes by Friday.

“The city will receive more when I pay them,” Jones repeated to WMC multiple times as he headed into a meeting. “The issue is we do not have enough city services. Don’t make this about an individual. Make it about investing in people. That’s what this is about, investing in people.”

Jones’ tax increase proposal received a lot of attention heading into the final budget meetings.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said now would be the wrong time to even consider a tax increase.

“At the tail end of the pandemic, when thousands of people have lost their jobs, and hundreds have lost their businesses, this is not the time to raise taxes,” Strickland said.

Most members of the city council agreed.

They voted against suspending the rules to consider Jones’s proposal, killing the effort.

Jones had the support of several nonprofits who urged the city to adopt what they called a “moral budget.”

The council approved setting aside $23 million in the city’s so-called savings account to use in the event that federal funding doesn’t cover the city’s projected revenue shortfall.

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