As the vote on the “Metropolitan Charter” draws closer, we all need to watch for misleading information! Just as a recent example, I received an e-mail from an organization that apparently was organized to support consolidation. This was before the Charter was even written, so it appears the objective was not a good Charter, but just to support consolidation.
One of the big claims is that “consolidation” in Nashville (which took place in 1962) is the reason Nashville has lower property taxes!!!! No other criteria was apparently reviewed, such as Nashville having a lot larger sales tax/business tax base, Nashville being the State Capital, motel tax revenues etc., just that “consolidation” was the answer!
The difference between the "Urban" tax rate in Nashville (an "urban tax rate" is the rate that is imposed in the Nashville "urban services" district) and the "general" tax rate (the rate charged in suburbs etc.) is only .53 cents! It appears that the suburbs in Davidson County are subsidizing the urban services in Nashville and I strongly expect that is what will happen here!
It was also stated that “property taxes would probably decrease” under the new Charter. This is simply not true for the suburbs and the rural areas. It may be true for the City of Memphis, although I have not seen any plan on how the over one billion dollars in "unfunded liabilities" for retirement costs for the current City of Memphis is going to be funded if the Charter is adopted.
In any event, the final Charter is not yet written. A review of what the Metro Charter Commission sent to the “writing committee”, which is writing the final Charter, click this link: www.ShelbyCountytn.gov
Part of the e-mail that was sent out is reprinted below. The claim is also repeated in numerous documents.
Q. Will a new metro government lower my taxes?
A. Judging from our peer cities, like Nashville, the tax rate could fluctuate and ultimately drop. Right now the cumulative tax rate in Memphis and Shelby County is the highest in the state at $7.21. That's almost double the tax rate of the Nashville/Davidson County Metro Government. Our tax rate is so high partly because of duplicated services in the dual government system that waste taxpayer dollars. By eliminating waste, a metro government could get a better handle on our ever-growing tax rate. To force efficiency on day one, the new government would operate under a three-year property tax freeze. Property taxes could go down, but could not go up during this time.