“How is the payroll tax fair? It is bullying everyone that does not live in Memphis but works there. Are there a lot of cities in the nation that do that to their suburbs and adjacent counties and even into another state”.
Yes, actually there are. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia allow cities, counties, and municipalities to levy their own separate individual income taxes in addition to state income taxes. These include but are not limited to: Birmingham, Denver, D.C., Willmington (DE), Bowling Green, Lexington (KY), Lousiville, Paducah, Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, NYC, Newark, Columbus (OH), Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Portland (OR), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco among many others. In addition, there are many examples of school districts that set and collect income taxes for those who work within their districts. So as you can see, Memphis would hardly be the first city to institute a payroll tax.
Actually that information is out there thanks to the Census which provides data such as population weighted densities within municipal boundaries which accomplishes what you are describing. Compared to the cities noted earlier, the densities found in the urbanized areas within the municipal boundaries of Baltimore, Detroit and Dallas are all remarkably higher than found in Memphis. The population weighted densities in Charlotte and OKC are very similar to Memphis while Atlanta (minus the immediate downtown area- specifically Buckhead), Nashville, Birmingham and Little Rock all show lower population densities within the urbanized areas of their local municipalities. The point here is that the correlation between the density of a municipalities urbanized area does not necessarily correlate with that communities financial stability or economic growth. There are other issues at plat here that obviously trump density which means that the whole de-annexation approach is not necessarily appropriate nor would it automatically equate to a more healthy financial outlook for the city.
This also supports the fact that a smaller, less dense population with very high property values will in turn generate a larger property tax windfall than a large poverty stricken population living at higher densities in areas with very low property values. The maximum yield results from high population densities AND high property values.
You know, a lot of comments here focus on the city’s low population densities as playing an overwhelming factor in our annual budget crisis. No, no doubt our exceptionally low population density does play a large role as lower densities can correlate with the collection of lower property taxes and often results in the generation of lower taxes from retail and commercial activity. However, a quick check of the following cities (some thriving, some not) shows our density is nothing remarkable, especially for the south and there are cities with much higher densities than ours that are faring far worse (all numbers are residents per square mile):
Little Rock: 1665.4
Oklahoma City: 983.1
@Memphistenguy: Sorry, the above post was for you.
Both sets of parents (now grandparents) are along with some extended family within 4 hours drive in several directions. If not for that, it is highly unlikely we would have moved back to Memphis. In fact, our plan had been to eventually move to Nashville instead.
It's very much our fault. We deluded ourselves into thinking that Memphis had hit bottom and was on a slow but noticeable upward trajectory. We bought into the sales pitch- as young college educated professionals- that Memphis was a great place to live because here you could get involved, apply your passion and make a difference. Instead, we have become more and more aware over the over the past 5 years that Memphis (and the Mid-South in general) continues its slow decline. We have come to realize that no matter how much we give of ourselves, our talents and our time, that there is a void in the Memphis metro that is far larger than the combined efforts of this community- thus far- can fill. The number of those that can and are willing to help keeps shrinking while the numbers of residents and neighborhoods that need help keeps growing. Simply put- we were naïve.
The contrast between “here” and places such as Middle Tennessee, North Georgia, the Carolinas and North Texas becomes more stark every year. I want my children to live in a city where they have a wonderful, high quality life with the greatest number of prospects available. I want them to be able to live a fulfilling life due in part to the qualities of where they live, not in spite of those qualities. I want them to live in a place where educated, skilled and passionate people live and are relocating to , not a city where they are leaving en masse.
Now please understand, we both love Memphis. In fact, that may be the source of our issue. We love Memphis so much, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to watch this area continue the slow motion suicide it has been intent on implementing over- what- the last 15 years or so.
Great comment- I agree on all your points. Doing the same with our little one. Hoping for Seattle or Boston.
Ok, let’s say Memphis decided to go down the de-annexation road. Many of you seem to think that would mean Memphis withdrawing to some previous line with the city boundary following roughly the Wolf River, East Parkway or Highland and something like the Nonconnah Creek. However, financially the city cannot afford to de-annex those areas where the taxes collected are in excess of the cost of service rendered. Financially the most advantageous footprint would likely follow the “rich wedge” - an area along an east-west axis running between downtown and Cordova and bounded (roughly) by Jackson on the north and Lamar/ I-240/ 385 on the south.
If you think that Frayser, Hickory Ridge and Whitehaven are exhibiting a negative trend right now, just wait until those areas lose urban police and fire coverage.
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By Louis Goggans
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