MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis Light Gas and Water is on the verge of collecting hundreds of thousands of Shelby County tax dollars by ending a practice they've done for decades.
The Memphis City Charter orders MLGW to provide free water to the city schools. The president of the company says the only way that will stop is if Memphis City Schools cease to exist, meaning the school merger will start the school water meter ticking for all county taxpayers.
The free water going to Memphis City Schools costs about $700,000 a year. Considering schools merge next year, this is just one example of how a combined school system will hit all county taxpayers.
Turn on the tap and check out some major league water. Memphis might have troubles, people might get robbed and shot, unemployment might be high, but the tap water is out of this world. It's been rated some of the best in the nation. For years, city school children have been able to quench their thirst without the school system being charged a dime.
MLGW President Jerry Collins explained, "There is a provision in the city charter and a practice that dates back several decades whereby the city school system gets free water."
The city school system saves a lot of money with this deal, which might soon head into the sunset along with $2 gasoline and word processors.
"That's a total of about $700,000 a year that MLGW gives to the city school system. And it's my understanding that contribution will be going away come September 2013," said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
If it goes away, kids still need water at school and everyone in Shelby County will be footing the bill.
County Commissioner Terry Roland says that's when the taxpayers will see that they'll all be paying more.
"We're talking about streams of revenue that are coming in now that are going to dry up with the unified system, which is going to cause the cost to go up," he said.
Barbara Prescott, who heads up the Merger Transitional Planning Commission, says they haven't talked with MLGW. They might, but they are preparing to pay the water bills, and will try to conserve.