Memphis voters favor raising sales tax in support of firefighters and police officers

Local Elections

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( – There’s going to be a sales tax increase.

And you folks want it.

When signs started going up – in some cases, big signs – it was, in fact, a sign that some didn’t believe.

People were about to vote to raise their own taxes, in order to help firefighters and police.

Mike Williams, President of the Memphis Police Association, couldn’t get off the phone. It was ringing all morning.

The victory for his union, as well as the Memphis Firefighters Association, was big.

Mike Williams has stayed in the background for most of the campaign to increase the sales tax and restore benefits for first responders.

It would bring back retirement health insurance benefits. It would bring back the pension.

It won, because Williams says people realize that they want good cops and firefighters to stay in this city.

“I definitely think it’s going to help with the retention of officers,” he says. “That’s been the big problem.”

And how. More than 400 new officers have been hired over four years. But with other cops leaving or retiring, there has been a gain of less than 30.

“It was like a cup of coffee,” Williams said. “You pour the coffee in. But if you’ve got a hole in the bottom of the cup, the coffee’s coming out. So I’m definitely hoping this will help with retention of the quality officers we have.”

Now they have to work out when the tax will go into effect, and that will be the city council’s decision.

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