Referendum on Oct. 3rd ballot asks Memphians for sales tax increase for fire & police benefits

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – I’m going to go out on a limb here and say an awful lot of you probably have no idea what the question will be on the October third ballot. It’s a doozy.

It’s important for Memphis Firefighters, for police.

It would raise the sales tax in Memphis by half-a-cent. It would then be the very same amount as in every other Shelby County community.

“We’ve been working on this now for over two years,” says Memphis Firefighters Association President Thomas Malone, “… and this is the most-fair solution. If you look around us, every other community around us is at this level.”

Raising the sales tax by half-a-cent would raise at least $55 million, he says.

“So what would take place,” according to Malone, “… is the bulk of that would go toward restoring fire and police pensions and insurance.”

When the pension was done away with several years ago, when insurance benefits changed, it began an exodus of officers and firefighters from this city. Many went to other cities with better pay and, more importantly, better benefits.

It is still happening with firefighters, Malone says.

“Just this year,’ he says, “… on the fire side, we’ve lost 59 people. That’s not retirement. That is resignation.”

Malone says pay and benefits are better for firefighters who work with Shelby County Fire, or Germantown, or Collierville. That’s where a lot of them are going, he says.

“This is not a political effort,” says Malone. “It’s put right to the citizens. Do you support fire and police restoring these benefits? There’s only one referendum on the ballot. It’s for or against.”

The association is opening a headquarters on this issue next week, directly across the street from East High School. There will be somebody there to answer questions, and to hand out election swag.

Election day is Thursday, October 3rd.

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