Council Members Blame Tax Breaks For Budget Crunch

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Memphis) Several council members say they wouldn’t be in such a budget crunch having to cut jobs and raise taxes if they weren’t giving private companies millions of dollars to stay in town.

“We are giving all of these companies all of these tax breaks. They aren't paying anything and it`s falling on the backs of the tax payers in Memphis,” said Councilwoman Janis Fullilove.

Memphis and Shelby County give some of the largest tax breaks to businesses in the Mid-South.

Fullilove wants that to stop.

She’s calling out a plan to build a $3.5 million pedestrian walkway for International Paper.

The Fortune 500 Company threatened to leave last year, forcing the city and county to extend major tax breaks for another 15 years.

“International Paper, you wanted to leave, I don't care whether they leave or not. They`re not going to leave because we've given them the kitchen sink, the bathtub, the toilet, everything!” said Fullilove.

Councilman Jim Strickland says she's on to something, but Fullilove should put her money where her mouth is.

“I agree. I think we give too many incentives to businesses to come in. And I look forward to what Councilwoman Fullilove proposes to stop that. It gets to a point when we have to stop talking about that and make proposals,” said Strickland.

City Council Chairman Edmund Ford, Jr., says the PILOT Program and other tax incentives for companies in Memphis should be reviewed after they approve a city budget.

He proposes a tax rate increase and getting rid of 400 positions just to make budget by Monday.

“I believe there should be limits and I believe the council should have an objective discussion on everything,” said Ford.

Supporters of the tax breaks say they are an important part of keeping thousands of high paying jobs in town that continue to stimulate the economy.