Local I-Team: New details on Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris’ MATA funding plan

Local I-Team

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – We’re learning new details on the plan to fund MATA released by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris this week.

Harris wants households to pay a $145 fee every year to register every car more than the first two.

Despite what some supporters may think, no zip code would be spared from this extra tax. 

Harris points out his plan will not affect 83% of households because they only own two cars. Census records for Memphis and Shelby county show the number of households with three or more cars is split pretty evenly across zip codes. 

“We’re just starting to make the sausage. It takes time,” said Reginald Milton, Shelby County Commissioner.

Milton is referring to mulling over the plan that would increase funding to MATA by $10 million. 

“I want to make sure this process is fair, and it should not be a regressive tax, so I will be looking at all the possible options,” said Milton.

We showed Milton what we uncovered. According to census records, from lower income neighborhoods to those with higher income, similar numbers of households have three or more cars. For example, the Frayser zip code of 38127, the East Memphis zip code of 38117, and the Germantown zip of 38139 all have around 1800 households with more than three cars. Just over 2,000 households would be affected in the 38109, which is in Southwest Memphis. Almost 3000 households have three or cars in Whitehaven’s 38116, and just over 3000 in Cordova’s 38018.

“If it passes, it would affect people all over, and it’s not just Bartlett, Lakeland, Germantown. It’s every area of Memphis,” said Mick Wright, Shelby County Commissioner.

Wright says he has heard more from constituents on this issue than any other one, and most don’t like the idea.

Milton says what the commission finally approves may not be what is proposed, but added, “I am completely committed for the county finding a way in helping to fund MATA,” said Milton.

The fee could hit some communities’ pocketbooks harder than others. In that Frayser zip, the median household income is just over $27,000 a year. The Germantown zip median household income of just over $138,000.

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