Our Council Man Gets It

Midtown has a Democrat as our representative on the Memphis City Council, but he is a Democrat who gets it when it comes to property taxes.

In today’s Commercial Appeal, Strickland pens an op ed entitled “Memphis can’t afford a property tax hike.” How right he is, in both senses of the word. He points out that Memphians pay the highest property taxes in the state. “Our rate is 30 percent higher than Germantown’s, 75 percent higher than Nashville’s, and 235 percent higher than the rate in Somerville in Fayette County.

“The owner of a $150,000 house in Memphis pays $2,703 a year in taxes. If you move about 25 miles east of Cordova to Somerville, you will pay only $806 in taxes for a house of the same value.” And they want to raise it.
Mayor A C Wharton’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins in July, which the City Council will review over the next six weeks, would be the largest budget in the history of Memphis if it is passed as the mayor presented it — $628.3 million. It is $22 million higher than the current year’s budget.

“In 2008, over my objections, the council greatly increased city government spending to $616 million. And despite the fact that the administration claims the mayor’s budget proposal includes $24 million in cuts, the amount spent in operating city government has increased. Any money saved with reductions in one part of city government is spent on a program or job in another area of City Hall.

“If the council approves the mayor’s proposed 47-cent one-year increase in the tax rate, Memphis’ tax rate for the coming fiscal year will be 38 percent higher than Germantown’s, 86 percent higher than Nashville’s and 257 percent higher than Somerville’s. For the $150,000 house, the Memphis owner will pay approximately $2,900 compared to an owner in Nashville paying $1,500. Almost twice as much.”

Strickland sees that the end result of all of this is an exodus to Mississippi and our rural environs. We can’t sustain the loss of so many citizens and operate Memphis efficiently.

I can add that I don’t see, ethically, why a home owner should pay for his home once and then, through property taxes, pay for it again. That is a gouging our founding fathers would rail against.

Strickland is taking a very Reagan approach to the issue against his fellow Democrats. I agree with him; “the future of Memphis rests upon our (the council’s) decisions.” If they allow greed or greedy constituents to win the tax fight we will all lose.

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