Political Maneuvering Could Derail Luttrell's County Budget

Political Maneuvering Could Derail Luttrell's County Budget

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell's plan to raise your taxes might be dead in the water.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell's plan to raise your taxes might be dead in the water.

County Commissioner Sidney Chism is no longer voting on the plan because of a possible conflict of interest, and now it appears a second commissioner might not vote for the same reason.

Without seven 'yes" votes, Luttrell's plan fails.

Commissioner Terry Roland says fellow commissioners Sidney Chism and Melvin Burgess, Jr. are OK as far as he's concerned - to a point.

"I have no malice against any of these gentlemen," he said, "I mean they're fine, fine people."

Still, Roland better expect any Christmas gifts from either Commissioner Chism or Burgess. He says both men had conflicts of interest when voting on the county budget.

Sidney Chism is already under investigation because he owns a day care center and some education money goes to fund day care center programs. He's not going to vote on the budget.

Now there's a question about Burgess, who has been voting on the county budget while working for Memphis City Schools.

The Shelby County attorney ruled that Burgess was a school employee before being elected to the commission and only had to disclose that fact before voting, and everything would be fine.

"But now that school system doesn't exist any more, ok?" noted Roland. "And he had to reapply for this new job with a new district so that doesn't count anymore. It doesn't transfer."

But there's a method behind Roland's moves. The Luttrell tax increase needs seven votes to be approved. You take Burgess out, it fails.

"Well, that's what you call politics," Roland stated.

Burgess has voted in favor of the Luttrell plan in the past, saying he wouldn't be threatened or intimidated. Thursday, all he would say was he will follow the advice of the Shelby County attorney, the same attorney who told Sidney Chism not to vote because of a conflict.

Commissioners meet again next week.

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