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Inspection Plan Further Strains Relations between City, County

Ever since the beginning of the school merger plan, fighting between Shelby County and the City of Memphis has been bad, and it's getting worse.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Ever since the beginning of the school merger plan, fighting between Shelby County and the City of Memphis has been bad, and it's getting worse.

The mayor of Shelby County is concerned. The mayor of Memphis, not so much; he thinks it'll all blow over.

Even with the top two guys in government, it doesn't take long for the differences to pop up. The school merger, the plans by suburbs to start their own school systems, those are big.

The proposal by a city councilman to force people outside the city limits to pay for auto inspections in Memphis was pretty much the last straw.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton actually get along pretty well. Both of them are nice guys, and you rarely hear them say a bad word about anybody. That is, until they start talking about the other fella's stomping grounds.

Luttrell had plenty to say on the plan to force paid inspections on county residents who cross into the city limits regularly.

"I think the city's got some challenges. I don't know the ins and outs of some of their concerns, but we need to start looking at ways to grow our community economically: raise revenue from traditional sources, creating jobs, preparing people for the job market."

Luttrell is concerned about the relationship between the city and the county since the start of the school merger discussion. One of his main goals was to keep things going smoothly. He's not sure if he succeeded.

But Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, who was once Shelby County mayor by the way, says don't worry, everything is going to be just fine.

"You've always had that. It's like the musical Oklahoma. There's always going to be a feud between the farmers and the ranchers. So I don't think there's anything particularly new about that."

But in his very next breath, the man who says 'Don't worry,' takes a swipe at county folks who don't want anything to do with the vehicle inspection proposal.

"The air that we breathe, that vehicles pollute inside the city limits doesn't stop when it gets to the municipal boundaries, it goes everywhere. So we're all in it together and we should all work to solve it together."

If it weren't for working together, there wouldn't be a FedExForum, or a Pyramid, or an airport.

Right now both governments are busy taking swipes at each other. The fears some have is next year, when schools are scheduled to merge, relations will be so bad that they will get in the way of the biggest educational development in Memphis and Shelby County in decades.

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