Memphis City Council members say they are prepared to fight a bill before the Tennessee General Assembly that would allow some areas to de-annex from the city of Memphis.
“We’re not going to roll over,” said council member Joe Brown. “We’ve been pushed around for quite some time.”
The state House passed the bill earlier this week. A Senate vote on the matter is not yet scheduled.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the bill could cost Memphis in the range of $27.7 million to $80 million in local property taxes. That, he said, out of a entire city budget of about $650 million would have a “huge impact.” It could create a tax hike in the next few years ranging from 30 cents to 70 cents.
Depending on the size of the areas that could be possibly lost to the de-annexations, the city could lose about 111,000 people.
Council member Janis Fullilove said the move could be “castrophic” and asked council attorney Allan Wade what the council could do. Wade declined to lay out too many options, saying he’d rather talk details in a closed-door meeting with the council in an attorney-client meeting.
However, he did say that the state’s move could force the city to consider aggressive options if it meant the city could no longer afford certain parts of its current organization.
“There might come a time when you look to (the Shelby County Sheriff) and you say, ‘alright, brother, you take the whole county’ and we give up our police force,” Wade said.
He also noted that the council could consider selling off Memphis Light Gas & Water.
Council member Berlin Boyd said he’s had conversations with state lawmakers from West, Middle, and East Tennessee and believes the bill has “created an us-agasint-them scenario” and that lawmakers are out to "get" Memphis.
“[Memphis] is considered worse than a red-headed step-child and it is absolutely disheartening,” Boyd said.
Council member Martavius Jones gave the number for Sen. Reginald Tate’s Nashville office and gave his legislative email address. Tate represents parts of Memphis and is a sponsor of the bill.
“He’s doing this for selfish reasons,” Jones said. “He lives in Southwind and his property taxes would probably go down with this.”