Will a Shelby County agreement to help fund MATA ever come together, asks Otis Sanford?

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on the latest plan for Shelby County to help fund MATA.

There’s an old saying that goes like this. If you want a great idea to die, give it to a committee. I’m not sure Shelby County Commissioners are aware of that line. So they have taken a perfectly reasonable idea to put county taxpayer dollars into the Memphis Area Transit Authority – and turned it over to an ad hoc committee.

The committee will be chaired by commission chairman Mark Billingsley, which lends some comfort that the issue will be taken seriously. But fellow commissioners seem to be woefully divided over how to best get the $9 million annually to fund MATA.

The latest plan was to tack on an additional $20 to the vehicle registration fee that all vehicle owners pay annually. The idea seemed to have bipartisan support. But if it did, it quickly dissolved during Wednesday’s contentious commission meeting.

The vice chair of the Shelby County Republican Party showed up to let commissioners know the local party absolutely opposes a tax increase. Before the meeting was over, Commissioner Tami Sawyer summed things up, by describing the MATA funding debate as a mess. I tend to agree.

County Mayor Lee Harris tried his best to put a positive spin on the stalemate, by equating it to making sausage. Except sausage eventually comes together in a neat package.

It’s doubtful a county agreement to fund public transportation ever will. And that’s my point of view.

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