Talk of increasing wheel tax goes ‘round and ‘round

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Another speed bump at the Shelby County Commission over a proposed increase in a Motor Vehicle Tax or Wheel Tax to fund MATA.

Going into Monday’s first regular meeting for 2020 Commissioners were doubtful of approval and instead voted to send the measure back to committee for further consideration.

Also at the meeting were some community organizations that support MATA funding, but not the increase of the Wheel Tax.

Commissioners continue pumping the brakes on passing a $20 Wheel Tax increase proposed by Shelby county Mayor Lee Harris.

At the heart of the matter remains the idea that public transit doesn’t impact all Shelby County residents, so why should they all pay for MATA. Even those who support funding for MATA say there are other ways to get money to the struggling bus system.

“Anybody agrees that public transportation needs to be funded. It’s about how it should be funded. The fact that this commission wants to use the wheel tax. We don’t see it as a plus. We see it as a forced tax,” said Johnnie Mosely of Citizens for Better Services.

Commissioner Brandon Morrison says she’s working on an alternative funding plan to be presented later.

Rev. Ayanna Johnson Watkins of Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action & Hope or MICAH says a  $20 transit fee might be better received by tax payers.

“The Wheel Tax is a separate item that also falls under vehicle registration. We don’t have to touch that or deal with it and this way if the Wheel Tax is wiped out tomorrow we still have funding fro transit dedicated,” Watkins.

“I think we’re on the path to bringing along a lot of folks  to a collaborative approach and having multiple perspectives in the final product,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.

Commissioners will discuss the Wheel Tax increase in a meeting January 22. They invited all of Shelby County to attend.

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