Confusion, flared tempers surround tax hike conversation - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Confusion, flared tempers surround tax hike conversation

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Shelby Co. Commissioner Terry Roland is one of three who voted 'no' to the property tax hike. Shelby Co. Commissioner Terry Roland is one of three who voted 'no' to the property tax hike.

(WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Commission approved a certified property tax rate hike, but it did not happen without confusion and flared tempers.

Even with the commissioners' approval, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell says the vote will not raise your taxes yet.

The certified tax rate is now $4.33, up from $4.02.

The mayor says commissioners only approved a calculation, not an actual tax increase, but some commissioners say the administration is trying to pull a fast one.

"You can make cuts in government so we don't have to go up on that tax rate. So don't put that on the back of this commission," said Commissioner Terry Roland.

A firestorm of debate took over the Shelby County Commission Monday, after the mayor's office explained commissioners were only voting to increase the "certified tax rate," not actually increasing how much people will pay.

"If you're not willing to make cuts in the administration so we don't have to vote on a tax increase, don't bring it to me and try to say the state's making you do this. That doesn't work with me," added Roland.

The mayor's office says after losing money from lower property values, the state requires the county to send the tax amount needed to keep government afloat.

Commissioner Sydney Chism says those against the vote are trying to prevent the mayor from raising money to pay for the unified school system.

"The lawyers are telling you on a consistent basis it's something we've got to do and yet you want to put your two cents in about your law expertise, but you don't have it," said Chism.

When the argument ramped up, the mayor arrived.

"I can understand your frustration over this," said Mayor Luttrell.

He acknowledged it is confusing.

"The certified tax rate is just defining the amount of money it'll take to raise the same amount of money and why there has to be a vote is beyond me," said Luttrell.

If you are having trouble understanding this, you are not alone.

The three commissioners who voted "no" said the explanation makes no sense and they have never done it this way before. Those commissioners are Wyatt Bunker, Chris Thomas, and Terry Roland.

The commission will vote on the actual tax rate at a later date.

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