Tuesday, August 13, 2002

County Commission Punts

With newly-elected Commissioner John Willingham sitting in the audience, watching carefully, the County Commission, sensing defeat and wishing to avoid the embarrassment, passed over a vote on a tax increase. They opted instead to shift some funds from sales tax revenue.

But note the Commercial Appeal's take on the story:
The Shelby County Commission on Monday left the county
property tax rate unchanged, delivering a resounding "no" to a
proposed 10-cent hike for schools....

The measure had been forwarded to the full commission by a
divided budget committee last week. But commissioners on
Monday knew the votes weren't there....

In an 8-2 vote, the body passed the current county property tax
Not quite a "resounding no." They avoided the increase vote and merely passed the no-increase budget. By the way, three Commission members either didn't vote or weren't present, which squares with my prediction yesterday of a 7-6 or 8-5 vote against.

And the writer, Michael Erskine this time and not Ruma Banerji as in the previous two stories, manages to add the usual CA spin:
Just months after two incumbent commissioners were upset in
the May primary amid vocal anti-tax rhetoric, commissioners did
not even bring the 10-cent increase to a vote Monday....

The tone of Monday's meeting stood in stark contrast to the close
of the budget debate last year, when a bevy of sheriff's deputies
and county police officers were called in to keep order amid
tumultuous protests over a 43-cent property tax hike and a
doubling of the wheel tax.

Relatively, this year's budget process ended with merely a
whimper. Just a handful of tax opponents were present. Not a
single homemade poster was waved. And the three deputies on
hand had little to do but wait out the three-hour meeting.
Some interesting comments from various participants before we go:
"I believe that this was a year that we . . . recognized the
commission would just not be receptive at all to any type of
property tax increase or substantial funding increase," said David
Pickler, chairman of the Shelby County school board.

"We really got about all we could have expected...."

[Commissioner Cleo] Kirk said he felt the schools could "get by" this year with what
commissioners could give them.

"The schools are really not in that great of a need this year," he
If they could do this, then why the gnashing of teeth over not getting their request? Is it that there's still padding in budgeted-but-unspent funds from the previous budget, as most agencies have?

The good news here, despite the CA's smudging over, is that a tax increase was stopped. That's a good sign for the future. Most important, will the cuts to be made come from administration and future building projects? Or will they make easy, show cuts?

Until next time, that is all.
Your Working Boy

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