What the sales tax defeat means for school funding - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

What the sales tax defeat means for school funding

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The failure of the referendum means the suburbs can collect their own sales taxes to pay for schools.

But it also means the other schools in the county face a 60 million dollar gap.

"We've got a train wreck coming with the school financing problems," said Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz.

Ritz said if the county cannot collect sales taxes, a property tax hike is the county's only option to fund schools.

"Our failure to get a half-cent sales tax is Memphis is now going to leave us with a property tax on everybody in Shelby County and that includes the suburbs," said Ritz.

County School Board Commissioner David Pickler, on the other hand, is elated his 15 year pursuit for suburban school autonomy is in the final stretch.

"Giving the citizens of suburban Shelby County the opportunity of self-determination. To direct the future of their public education," said Shelby County School
Board Commissioner David Pickler.

While Ritz says the suburbs will pay one way or another.

"The citizens in Bartlett and Germantown, frankly, had an interesting in this passing yesterday, but I think they'll find out next spring," said Shelby County School
Board Commissioner Mike Ritz.

Board Commissioner David Pickler is talking school cuts.

"We've got to make some budget cuts and we've got to be very effective and laser focused in our conversations about how do we ensure that we're ready," said Pickler.

The suburban school boards chosen in last night's election will be sworn in over the next month.

The suburbs have one loose end.

A federal judge has yet to rule if their August votes to fund their own school systems is constitutional.

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