The Memphis City Council began the legislative process Tuesday that would put a half-cent sales tax hike on the November ballot. The funds form the new tax could stop cuts in health care and pension benefits for city employees and retirees.
The proposal would levy the new, half-cent tax on top of the city’s existing sales tax rate of 9.25 percent. Memphis fire and police services would get 80 percent of the new funds collected from the tax. The remaining 20 percent would go to the city’s debt service fund.
“It is the duty of Memphis city government to ensure that we live in a clean and safe community and provide services to our citizens including public safety, quality services, and professionally qualified employees with comparable benefits,” says the ordinance presented Tuesday.
Some feared, though, that the ordinance would not make it through the council process in time to make it on the November ballot. City ordinances are finalized in three votes. That means the earliest the sales tax hike proposal could be approved would be September 16. November ballot initiatives are due to the Shelby County Election Commission by September 1.
Council members said they would ask council attorney Allan Wade for guidance on the matter.