Tempers Flare During County Commission Property Tax Talks

Tempers Flare During County Commission Property Tax Talks

Tempers flared Monday night as Shelby County commissioners tried to set a new property tax rate.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Tempers flared Monday night as Shelby County commissioners tried to set a new property tax rate.

Some accused Mayor Mark Luttrell of playing tricks to force them to approve a tax increase. Mayor Luttrell denies that, and voters are caught in the middle.

Commissioners argued about paying the Unified School District's legal fees. More than $150,000 is owed to lawyers. The motion to pay it failed.

Next up was establishing the certified tax rate. "It's a mathematical calculation, it's not raising taxes. We're not doing anything, we're just making a statement," Luttrell told commissioners.

By state law this has to be done. But Mayor Mark Luttrell proposed the tax rate to be $4.32. That's much higher than the current property rate.

Commissioner Terry Roland stated, "The people of Shelby County should not have to be paying for the bad decisions that government has made for the last 25 years."

"It's just hard for me to believe that we're forced by the state to increase people's taxes," said Commissioner Wyatt Bunker.

Mayor Luttrell wants an extra 6 cents from the $4.32 to pay for the Unified School System.

"The taxpayers have got to get a break somewhere, they can go to DeSoto, they can go to Tipton, they can go to Fayette, they can go to Crittenden," noted Commissioner Heidi Shafer. "We don't want them to. We need them to stay here."

If property taxes do go up, resident Lee Cochran is planning to move to Fayette County. "I feel frustrated with the county mayor and his administration giving the run around and not taking responsibility."

In the end, the motion to establish the certified tax rate passed 8 to 3. As of right now no taxes are going up, yet. In two weeks the Shelby County Commission will vote on increasing or keeping the same property tax rate.

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