MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on funding MATA.
When it comes to funding the Memphis Area Transit Authority, the Shelby County Commission and the county mayor are finding it awfully difficult to get on the same page. Both Mayor Lee Harris and commissioners – most of them anyway – agree on the need to put county tax dollars into MATA as a way of boosting job growth and addressing poverty. But how to do it has so far become an exercise in political misfires and backtracking.
Harris and several commissioners made funding MATA part of their election campaigns in 2018. But when the mayor finally rolled out a plan more than a year after his election, it was greeted like warmed-over hash.
He proposed a so-called sustainability fee that would assess a $145 annual charge on every vehicle in a household, above two. Harris later adjusted the plan to apply only to a third vehicle.
Then came a proposal by county commissioner Willie Brooks to tack on $20 to the existing, and very unpopular, wheel tax. But Monday Brooks pulled that plan from consideration when it became clear there were not the necessary nine votes for passage.
So now, the mayor and commissioners are still struggling to find a funding source for MATA that they and county taxpayers can live with. No, it won’t be easy. But they were elected to make the tough decisions. So my only suggestion is – keep at it. And that’s my point of view.