Mr. Ritz says "It will be very difficult politically to turn back the creation of a municipal school district once it is in place." If we agree with him that it is difficult to turn back politically, it's will be because the citizens want the MSD and are willing to pay for it. They might not like paying higher taxes, but they prefer that to the alternative. More importantly, if we do discover it cost more than we are willing to pay, then it isn't at all difficult to turn back. Just a few short months ago we saw just how easy it is to give up a charter and walk away from a school system when the citizens decide they aren't interested any longer.
In any event, Mr. Ritz was a pro-charter surrender cheerleader and has opposed the MSD movement every step of the way. His estimate is no less biased than would be those of the most ardent proponents of the MSDs. Both make financial assumptions that support their side in order to further their desired outcome. At the end of the day, we will have our vote and decide our future, and I can assure you that it will take more than the threat of doubled property taxes (to a rate that is still less than the City of Memphis tax rate) to dissuade the people of Bartlett from assuming control of our schools.
You'll have to bludgeon the porch lights in Bartlett to get something served by MEMPHIS Light Gas and Water. Bartlett has it's own water and sewer department as do Millington, Germantown, and Collierville. If you want to get the lawn jockeys that are nourished by MLG&W water, you'll need to go to Arlington and Lakeland.
The good news is if you hit Lakeland and Arlington, they don't have a police department to arrest you so you'll likely get to enjoy your civil disobedience unmolested.
If Shelby County is the taxing authority for the schools in the county then all tax dollars are split based on the ADA formula. If Shelby County opts out of funding schools in Bartlett/Germantown/Coallierville, Shelby County loses access to the the portion of their tax dollars that go to fund county education. That would mean the $1.90 millage rate paid by the suburban cities for education in the county and the MCS would just become a city tax and would go exclusively to their municipal school district. This is exactly what the MCS board said they were acting to avoid (a SSD with taxing authority) by dropping their charter.
If this happens, Bartlett/Germantown/Collierville keep more of their tax dollars for their municipal districts and Shelby County loses access to those tax dollars for education purposes. It would be revenue neutral to a revenue increase for the suburban cities and would lead to a revenue decrease or a tax increase for the other areas of the county (including Memphis). Seems odd to pursue this path, but if that's what Memphis wants, I say we agree today and move forward. I would assume that the county wheel tax and sales tax percentage for education would also devolve to the suburban cities which would be another plus.
By Richard Alley
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