Suburbs Keep Control of School Funding After Vote

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(Bartlett, TN) Voters in Memphis and unincorporated parts of Shelby County are not willing to raise the sales tax by a half cent to pay for unified schools.

That measure was defeated by 69 percent to 31 percent.

This is good news for people in the suburbs and their attempt to create their own schools. 

If the county-wide sales tax was approved it would have replaced municipal sales taxes just put in place to fund suburban schools.

The county says it needs $30 million to pay for unified schools, and a half cent sales tax increase would have covered it, but now commissioners will have to head back to the drawing board.

Jan Jones is ecstatic the county-wide tax failed, “I was excited because I live in Bartlett and I support Bartlett schools. And so I knew what would happened if it passed county-wide."

It's not cheap to start a school district. 

But that`s something parents like Jones in Shelby County`s suburbs are determined to do. 

They want to do this because Memphis City and Shelby County school districts are consolidating.

To pay for the new districts the suburbs approved raising the sales tax by half a percent in august. 

Days later Shelby County commissioners said they liked the idea of raising taxes for schools, and put a half percent tax on Tuesday’s ballot for people in Memphis and unincorporated parts of the county.

If passed it would have canceled out the suburban sales tax increase taking control of funding away from the suburbs.

County commissioners say they could now have to raise property taxes something they can do without a public vote. 

“Bottom line we want Bartlett schools so if we get our schools because we passed our tax increase and we have to raise property taxes for Shelby County then that's what we have to do so Bartlett citizens, get what they need or their schools,” said Jones.