It is a dance of the taxpayer dollars.
Government services don’t come free.
But Shelby County is different from Memphis.
Commissioners have to deal with the 800 pound puppy in the room.
They have to deal with Shelby County Schools.
Shelby County Commission Chairman Heidi Shafer is in the middle of her last budget as a member of the commission.
“I think we will have a very thorough process this year,” she says, “and remember, because we are over the school budget as well, the scope of our budget is huge.”
More than one billion dollars is on the table.
Included in that figure is an increase of 12-million dollars that Shelby County School Superintendent Dorsey Hopson says he needs.
Well hold the phone says Commissioner Terry Roland.
“Whatever you give them this year,” he says, “you’ve got to give it to them again next year, whether they need it or not.”
Roland does not like the school budget doesn’t like how commissioners hands are tied.
This is his last budget as well…he is term limited out of office.
“Maybe, that’s what I’ll do with my time when I get off the commission,” Roland says, “go to the legislature and lobby. We’ve got to have oversight of the schools. We can only vote the budget up or down. We can’t tell them how to spend that money, and that’s got to change.”
Commissioners have debated the budget right up until the last day, in years past.
Heidi Shafer says it will probably happen again.
“We never act as a rubber stamp for anyone,” Shafer says. “We’ve been consistent, trying to drive down the taxes. And so I want to keep on that slow, steady process of continuing to be more fiscally prudent with it. There will be some give and take.”
They will be giving and taking again on Wednesday. The Shelby County Budget must be approved by the beginning of the new fiscal year, July 1st. Last week, the Memphis City Council approved their new budget in record time.