County Commissioners Balk at School Funding Request

County Commissioners Balk at School Funding Request

Everybody knew the merged schools would need money, but not this much. The message from some Shelby County Commissioners is simple. Remember what the Rolling Stones said: "You can't always get what you want."
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Members of the Unified School Board want your money, and a lot of it. They say they need an extra 145 million taxpayer dollars to make this consolidated school system operate.

Everybody knew the merged schools would need money, but not this much. The message from some Shelby County Commissioners is simple. Remember what the Rolling Stones said: "You can't always get what you want."

People and politicians look at neighborhoods differently. People see neat homes, quiet places to live. Politicians see little piles of money. There's a chance this school budget will mean taxpayers will see a mountain of their money reduced to a molehill.

Don't blame the school board, says member Martavius Jones.

"Neither school board or system has received additional funding from the Shelby County Commission or Shelby County Government since 2007. So we're talking six years since there's been an increase in funding."

Jones says it sounds huge. Figure it out though, and property owners really shouldn't complain - it's really not that much.

"We're also talking about any type of increase in property taxes on a 150-thousand dollar home would be the equivalent of $31 a month," he said.

When you put it that way, it still sounds like too much money to Shelby County Commission Chairman Mike Ritz. He knew the board would want money, maybe $90 million, but $145 million? Well, maybe not.

"We can't tell them what to cut, and I wish everybody understood that," Ritz said. "It would be nice if Commissioners could pick and choose what we want to pay for and what we don't want to pay for. I think the school budget would look a lot different."

Commissioners told members of the unified school board to come up with a world-class school system. Commissioner Walter Bailey says as far as he's concerned, world-class school systems need world-class money.

"Quality is directly correlated with costs. Do you expect this to be contentious? Oh, absolutely."

County commissioners and school board members will meet in a couple of weeks to look over this budget.

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