Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris surprised at negative reaction to his MATA plan

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – He’s surprised.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris is surprised his plan to raise $10 million a year to MATA got so much heat so fast.

“Yeah, I’m very surprised,” the Mayor said. “If I’m the last man advocating for transit, that’s the way it has to be, because I think the issue is critically important, and this is the only way as a community we can get at poverty and those who are the most vulnerable.”

If you own three or more cars, your yearly registration would be about $250 per vehicle, when you factor in the current registration fee, and add the $145 from the Harris plan.

This is dirt cheap compared to places like Mississippi, Missouri, and North Carolina, where the cost of registration is tied into the vehicles blue book value.

Harris says it’s not a plan to hit the rich, it’s not a plan to hurt the poor – it is just a way of trying to fix a major problem in Memphis and Shelby County.

“My expectations at the onset is that this fee,” he says, “… if its approved, would apply across the entire county. We already know, based on statistics, the vast majority of folks who would be subject to it don’t live in the suburbs at all.”

The first vote won’t be coming until next February, at the earliest.

Some County Commissioners already think the suburbs are being unfairly targeted. At least one Commissioner is concerned about how the increased fees would hurt poor folks with three or more vehicles.

“The plan is not to soak the rich,” Mayor Harris says, “… or to tax the rich or to do whatever kind of stereotypical thing that folks are coming up with. That was never part of the proposal.”

The Mayor says if anybody has a better idea how to raise $10 million dollars a year for MATA, let him know.

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