Shea Flinn: ’48 Hours’ Could Tell Tale on City/County Tax Accord

Counciman confirms "discussions" have taken place but warns against presumption of "done deal."

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Shea Flinn
  • Shea Flinn
Sometime this week, representatives of city and county government could announce an unofficial accord of sorts in support of the county-sponsored half-cent sales tax increase on the November 6 ballot.

That’s the word from City Councilman Shea Flinn, whose own version of ballot initiative on a half-cent tax hike, confined to City of Memphis voters, was rendered moot by the county proposal from new Commission chairman Mike Ritz. The county tax, if approved and imposed, would also supersede previous sales-tax votes by suburban municipalities to support new municipal school districts.

Ritz’s proposal, adopted by a Commission majority, later earned the eight votes necessary to override a veto by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. Both Flinn and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton had lobbied Commission members hard to sustain Luttrell’s veto, but since the override have been involved in discussions with Commission members to see if an accord on the county tax proposal could be reached.

Ritz and such other Commission proponents of the county tax initiative as Steve Mulroy have argued that it is in the City’s interest to support the county ballot proposal, which would net substantial tax proceeds for city budgetary needs after the allocation of half of the tax revenues for school-funding purposes countywide.

As Ritz had done previously (on last weekend's installment of the WKNO program "Behind the Headlines"), Flinn confirmed that city/county discussions on the matter were ongoing, but the councilman cautioned that an accord was “anything but a done deal” and might not come off. In any case, he said, the degree of it remained undetermined, and any cooperative understanding would not include the whole Council nor involve any kind of official action by that body or by city government as such.

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