Archive for the ‘Policy Proposals’ Category
November 21, 2013
Close to $400,000 spent to pass this 1/2 cent sales tax increase. This is a top down proposal, we know better than you, type solution. City finances are on fire compared to the County which is in relatively good shape. This reminds me of Washington DC top down proposals. Shea Flinn and Jim Strickland are good guys and if they could get seven votes, they would reform city finances. Pastor Whalum knows the problem and the people and I think he has a better handle on the solution.
The real problem that this is intended to address is simple in origin.
The problem is single parent families from which comes illiteracy and welfare dependency.
The answer is a stable family, a good education encouraged by the parents and taxpaying work.
This proposed solution nibbles around the edges and throws money at the problem with a little left over to reduce property taxes, maybe.
The proponents of this proposal think sales taxes are the answer to everything. Finance Bass Pro, rebuild the Sears Tower, finance fairgrounds, finance heritage trail, finance a new convention center all from increased sales taxes. Have you looked at your Memphis CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports)? The local share of State Sales taxes have gone down by $4.5 million dollars from 2008 to 2012. And they tell you that all these projects can be financed by the incremental amount of sales tax collections generated by these multimillion dollar projects. Go figure!
November 7, 2013
I sent the attached open records request to the Shelby County Board of Education addressed to the records custodian. I got the answer shown in the attachment. Since then I have called twice and have gotten no return call. I then sent an email to Jennifer Collins and requested that she put the documents at the front desk a week ago Friday which I would pick up with a check. In the email I said if that was not possible to let me know. I arrived Friday morning and there were no documents and they could not get Ms. Collins on the phone. Also I was not allowed into the general counsel’s office in contradiction to the Tennessee open records law. I snail mailed the check and I finally received some documents about the books by return snail mail rather than by electronic mail. This cost them $2.32 to mail them.
The arrogance of these people is amazing. They don’t think they work for the taxpayers. They get this attitude by watching what goes on in Washington DC. Nothing really has changed since the consolidation. It seems to still be the Memphis School System. Obviously (more…)
November 4, 2013
This is an issue that the City of Memphis is trying to sneak by the voters in a vote that will probably have a low turnout. These are the reasons to vote NO. Early voting starts today. As they say in Chicago, vote early and often.
- The Commercial Appeal writes that 63% ($30 million) goes to Pre-K and the rest (1$17 million) to property tax reduction. However look at the wording of the Ordinance which states that the money goes to a Pre-K Commission appointed by Mayor Wharton which will make the decisions. Do you trust such a commission?
- Our sales tax is already very high (9.25%) and this would take it to 9.75%, the highest in the state, a very regressive tax.
- There is no evidence that Pre-K works and has any long term benefits,.
- There should be no new taxes until the City of Memphis and the City Council reform pensions and health care costs and get on a path to reduce unfunded liability as pointed out by the State of Tennessee.
October 28, 2013
Taxpaying citizens often feel like they are ignored until election time. Then the politicians come out of the woodwork and tell them what a great job they have been doing for them and promise all sorts of solutions to real problems. Then they get reelected and those promises go on the shelf in most cases. The citizens feel frustrated and impotent and don’t know what to do.
Well I know the answer and it is to organize, talk to each other, don’t get discouraged and let the pols know what you want. I want to give you some examples.
In 1994 a petition drive by Citizens Against New Taxes proposed an amendment to the County Charter setting term limits to two consecutive four year terms for the County Mayor and for County Commissioners. The amendment passed with 81% support. Then in 2004 John Lunt and a group of citizens, including myself, instituted a charter commission which resulted in two four year term limits for the Memphis Mayor and the City Council members.
What was the politicians’ reaction to the 1994 amendment to the County Charter. That Charter was enabled by petitions with required signature amounting to 15% of those who voted in the last gubernatorial election. AHA said the politicians. Let’s change that to 15% of registered voters, a much higher and almost impossible bar. That will teach those citizens who want to mess in our business, a lesson. Here is the language in the County Charter with the amendment passed in 1997 at the state level.
[may propose any such amendment by a petition addressed to the board of county
commissioners and containing the full text of the proposed amendment. Any petition
proposing a charter amendment must be filed with the clerk of the board of county
commissioners and must be signed by qualified voters of the county equal in number to
at least 15 percent of the persons who voted in the last gubernatorial election in Shelby
County. The clerk shall immediately deliver it to the county election commission. When
such petitions have been determined sufficient, the county election commission shall
submit same to the voters of the county in accordance with this section.
Editor's note: The Charter, § 5.05C., which states "at least 15 percent of the persons
who voted in the last gubernatorial election" is superseded by the state law, T.C.A. § 2-
5-151(d) which states "at least fifteen percent (15%) of those registered to vote in the
That makes my blood boil. How about you? Let’s let the state Senators and Representatives know we want to go back to the old language for petition signatures.
After the 1994 term limit success, Walter Bailey and two other pols filed suit to overturn term limits and they lost. Unfortunately Walter Bailey sat out and was reelected later. Unfortunately the term limit language did not have the provision of the US XXII amendment which will prevent George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama from being reelected again.
Finally I have attached a shame honor roll showing the longest term USA Senators and Congressmen. What happened to the founders’ intention to serve for a short term and then return home and live, work an earn a living under the laws that they passed rather than becoming a highly paid and corrupt lobbyist insulated from those laws.
Stand up, organize and let your representatives know you are sick of what you see.
October 17, 2013
I have been in contact with a very active group of people in Nashville about common core, school books and material and data collecting. Following is part of a recent email from this Nashville group about a great success they had in reviewing school books and reporting on what is actually in these books. I have recently sent an open records request to the new Shelby County School System requesting access to books, book lists and data collection. I have not yet heard back from them on this request. I will keep you informed on this request. Eventually I will get access to these books, pamphlets, material and data collection. At that point I will need help to review and report as did the Nashville group. It is a big job but are the kids worth it? Please let me know if you are up for the work.
This report came from Dr. J Lee Douglas, Nashville.
Put Your MLGW Bill On Your Credit Card
My Wife is much more alert to prices and deals then I am. However recently I found out that the MLGW will now let me put my MLGW bill on my credit card. Most government agencies charge at least a 2% fee to let you pay your tax bills or other fees by means of a credit card.
Since I earn air miles on my credit card and because it delays the payment of the bill I decided to sign up to pay my MLGW bill on my credit card. Why not? I went to the website and tried to set it up. I got to one point in the setup screens and got hung up and could never complete the setup. I eventually called and got it completed. Now my bill will automatically be paid by my credit card and I will get an electronic copy of the bills for my records.
September 9, 2013
Strategic Five-Fiscal and Management Plan
I have been reading through the huge five year City of Memphis Management Plan prepared by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and the PFM Group involving Rick Masson and V. Lynn Evans.
It is fascinating and full of information. It will take me some time to digest it. As I do I will let you, the tax paying public, share in the (more…)
September 4, 2013
At the last meeting of the City Council (August 20, 2013) they passed the smart meter resolution. There was also on the agenda an item for a resolution to approve the 2014 Street Lighting Schedule of Fees. This item was delayed until sometime in September.
Let me get this straight. This is an expense that is covered by the services paid for by property taxes. Now the City Council wants to take it out of their expense budget and bill it directly to the taxpayers through the MLGW billing process. If you will look on the back of your MLGW bill you will see that you are already being billed directly for the following.
- Sewer Fee (Memphis)
- Solid Waste Fee (Memphis)
- Storm Water Fee (Memphis)
- Mosquito/Rodent Control Fee (Shelby County)
Now they want to put a street lighting fee on your bill directly instead of raising your property taxes.
August 20, 2013
Several interesting things are on the City Council Agenda today.
- The smart meter item is up for voting at a cost of $10.15 million.
- There is a proposal for time of use residential rate schedule for those customers choosing smart meters.
- There is a new charge to be on your MLGW bill for street lighting at a residential charge of $51.84 per year, an apartment charge of $12.96 per year and a commercial business charge of $103.80 per year. This is a backdoor tax increase.
- A resolution to accept funding for Memphis Public Library from Humanities TN for the public program Bridging Cultures: Muslim Contribution to the US Since 1776.
I previously made a comment about smart meters and was squarely in the middle of the two sides. One of my readers said that my comments were similar to the famous Whiskey speech by Judge Soggy Sweat. I plead guilty to listening to both sides of the debate and each side has a point. I think it should be approved but without time of use rates. It should be defeated if time of use rates are also approved.
In an article published in the Commercial Appeal on Sunday discussing the recently passed property tax increase for Shelby County (http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2013/aug/11/a-perfect-storm-unique-challenges-on-revenue/) County Commissioner Henri Brooks takes aim at the Memphis-Shelby County PILOT program. Brooks objects to PILOT programs taking resources that, in her view, would be better spent on education than the business community. The PILOT program (Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes) provides relief of 90% of Memphis property taxes and 75% of Shelby County taxes to qualified businesses. The program is administered by EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) in Shelby County.
The PILOT program seeks to grow the economy of Memphis and Shelby County by making it more attractive for companies to locate here. PILOT grants are given to companies and projects that meet the goals of EDGE, but there is no obligation to give PILOT money to (more…)