Former Memphis School Funds Absorbed by Police Budget

Former Memphis School Funds Absorbed by Police Budget

The Memphis City Council needs to explain why they don't have any extra money in the budget. The city no longer contributes $60 million a year to Memphis City Schools, so where did all that cash go?
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Memphis City Council needs to explain why they don't have any extra money in the budget. The city no longer contributes $60 million a year to Memphis City Schools, so where did all that cash go?

This figure might surprise you: 62 percent of all of your property taxes in Memphis pay for police and fire. No other city services get anywhere near that amount of money.

"We often get the question - I'm sure y'all do too - I guess the city's got a big windfall of $64 million because we don't have to pay the schools anymore," stated Councilman Jim Strickland.

$64 million could mean lowering property taxes. $64 million sitting around would mean city employees would get that big 4.6 percent pay cut back. Too bad it doesn't exist, that $64 million.

According to City Finance Director Brian Collins, "Between 2008 and 2013 we took expenses for the Memphis Police Department from $190 million a year to about $232 million a year, which is about a $43 million increase in public safety."

City officials will try to confuse folks by tossing around a lot of numbers, so to make it simple, let's just say that Memphis uses a lot of your money to fight crime. Over the years, as a matter of fact, the crime rate has gone down about 16 percent. Well worth it, says Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

"There's been clearly an increase in the number of uniform officers," he said.

The question some have is whether the money should go toward fighting poverty in the city. Councilman Harold Collins says something should be done to help "lift the people of this city."

They'll be talking a lot about this over the next few weeks. I'll be watching.

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