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Re: “Council Race Switcheroo; Tax Rate Questioned

Not that the rate will change, but I think the penalty is that the county's lawyers will tell them that the tax rate will remain under a legal cloud unless the commissioners approve the ordinance in another vote. The Chancery Court ruling that upheld then commissioner Vasco Smith's lawsuit against setting the tax rate before July 1 was in 1981. It is surprising that after the commission's approving the tax rate on third reading in July for 38 years, no one with the county raised his or her hand this time and said hey, wait a minute, there might be a problem here. Five of the current commissioners won re-election last year and are in their fifth year in office. They dealt with giving final approval to the tax rate ordinance in July in each of the past four years.

Posted by jcov40 on 07/04/2019 at 10:59 AM

Re: “County Commission Continues Budget Battle

Was the commission's vote on June 24 to adopt the tax rate a valid vote? This is what I have posted on facebook:

Did the Shelby County Commission act contrary to state law when it approved this year's county property tax rate on third and final reading on Monday, June 24? For 30 years or so, the commission has been setting the tax rate after July 1 of each year. One year, when the late Vasco Smith was serving on the commission, commissioners set the rate before July 1. Smith, who objected to the move, filed a lawsuit in which he charged that state law prevented the county from setting the rate before July 1. Smith won the lawsuit. Every year since then, the county has been holding third reading on the rate after July 1. Last year, the rate was set on July 9. There have been no news stories since then about any court ruling or other action that would allow final action on the rate to be taken before July 1. With a new county mayor, new county attorney and eight new commissioners in office this year, did a mistake occur? Here is what state law says:

67-5-510. Establishment of county tax rate.

It is the duty of the county legislative bodies, on the first Monday in July, or as soon thereafter as practicable, to fix the tax rates on all properties within their respective jurisdictions for all county purposes, except that in any county having a population in excess of seven hundred thousand (700,000), according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census, establishing tax due dates other than the first Monday in October each year, in accordance with 67-1-701(a), shall have the authority to fix tax rates for all county purposes at dates prior to the first Monday in July.

The due date for collecting taxes in Shelby County has not been changed from the first Monday in October.-jcov40

Posted by jcov40 on 07/02/2019 at 3:51 PM

Re: “Harris’ Shelby County Budget Likely to be Impacted by Vouchers

Wish someone would cite me wording in the county charter, state law, a court ruling or even a legal opinion that the county mayor has any authority to make any recommendation on school funding or the schools' budget. The county charter seems to make it clear that the county mayor has no role in schools or school funding. A C Wharton was the first county mayor to make a recommendation on school funding and the budget. Mark Luttrell continued the practice. In fact, Luttrell last year recommended that the property tax rate for schools be cut five cents. The County Commission approved the recommendation. The action has left schools with a shortfall in county funding according to details in the overall budget proposal Lee Harris has presented. Basically, the county charter and the preceding Shelby County Government Restructure Act., which created the county mayor's position, say that the act and the charter do not apply to schools and school funding. The county school board and district remain under the Tennessee Private Acts of 1923, which in addition to the state's general law stipulate how school funding is to be handled. No legal opinion was ever issued under Wharton and Luttrell stating that the mayor had any authority to move into school funding but they did it any way because they and some of the commissioners in office at the time wanted to seize more control over schools. Reporters from the major news media never understood what was happening. I plan to write more about this in detail in a posting i will make elsewhere.-Jimmie Covington

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by jcov40 on 05/02/2019 at 2:26 PM

Re: “Going to Pieces

It's average daily attendance and not annual daily attendance. jcov40

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by jcov40 on 03/14/2019 at 7:07 PM

Re: “Going to Pieces

This is a very good piece. I don't believe any of the reporters and editors for any of the current major media outlets have an understanding of how to find and report some of the basic statistics of the community. For example, in recent years none of the major outlets has reported on the total assessed values of properties countywide and in Memphis and the county's other municipalities when they are certified each spring. These figures are the city and county's property tax bases. These are very important figures in understanding what is happening in the community. And last year at budget time, it seemed clear that neither the city and county mayors, City Council and County Commission members nor the media reporters covering them understood that significant city and county property tax cuts were occurring as a result of state-required recapture tax rates in the year after a property reappraisal. And there seemed to be no understanding and little reporting on what the then county mayor and County Commission did on the schools' portion of the property tax rate.
Another set of basic figures that has gone unreported is the annual breakdown of annual daily attendance figures of the county and suburban public school systems on which county funds for schools are divided among the systems. And next year is the annual 10-year federal census year, which will give a snapshot of the numbers, races, ages and other data of people living in the county and all of its municipalities. If Census Bureau estimates in recent years are accurate, Shelby County may for the first time in history record a decline in population from one 10-year census to the next. Is anyone at the the major outlets aware of this? It doesn't appear that any of the major outlets has anyone on their staffs with any in-depth experience in reporting on Census figures and demography. Maybe none of these statistics make bombshell stories but they are all important in letting people know what is happening in the underlying community. jcov40

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by jcov40 on 03/14/2019 at 6:01 PM

Re: “Legislature Mulling Change in Sheriff's Office

As I recall, the charter changes in 2008 also gave the Shelby County mayor authority to recommend or make changes in the budgets of the sheriff and the other officials before submitting them to the County Commission. Previously the mayor had the task of presenting a consolidated budget to commissioners but he could not change the budgets submitted to him by the other elected officials. The approach to doing things before the charter change was used for many years and did not appear to create any major problem. jcov40

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by jcov40 on 03/13/2019 at 3:48 PM

Re: “Council Recap: Memphis 3.0, Pre-K, & Cannabis

Media reporters have failed to tell us whether the county funding provides for the funding of pre-K classes in the suburban municipalities? Does it? It would seem to be a simple question to ask. jcov40

Posted by jcov40 on 03/11/2019 at 11:06 AM

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