MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on the sales tax increase approved by voters.
We are less than a week past the vote approving an increase in the city’s sales tax by a half-cent. But one thing already seems certain. The result of the vote is creating a hot mess.
The intent of raising the sales tax to the maximum allowed by state law of 9.75% was to restore benefits taken away from the city’s first responders in 2014. Projections are that the increase will generate between $50 and $54 million.
But now, Shelby County’s elected leaders are making noise about trying to claim their fair share of the increase, which is about half, or at least $25 million dollars. County Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr. has made it clear he intends to go after the county’s share. And commission chairman Mark Billingsley is asking for a legal opinion on the impact that would have on other municipalities.
If the county does indeed claim half of the sales tax increase, it would be grossly unfair to Memphians, since the county did not claim a portion of the increases that suburban cities approved to pay for their new school districts.
In addition, police and firefighters were not the only city employees who saw benefit cuts in 2014. So what about restoring their benefits as well?
The point is, the tax vote last week did not end a headache. It very likely caused one. And that’s my point of view.