County Commission Pinching Pennies to Pay for Schools

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(Memphis, TN) The Shelby County Commission is scrambling to come up with the cash to pay for unified schools.

Even after they raise property taxes, the commission is faced with being nearly a hundred million dollars in the hole.

They are looking at every option when it comes to pinching a penny.

A Shelby County Commission ad hock committee is looking at the way the city spends money.

“Let’s start buying for one.  If Shelby County buys everyone buys.  Now with this new unified system if we buy commodities it should be under one umbrella,” said County Commissioner Melvin Burgess.

Burgess says changing the purchasing policy will eliminate duplicate services and save money.

For example, right now Shelby County’s state of the art food service center is only open part of the day and only cooks food for Shelby County Schools.

The idea is to have them stay open longer and make meals for hospitals, schools and jails.

“With us having to absorb the school system we’re looking for every possible way to be smarter with our money, save our money and get the most out of our money that we can,” said Commissioner Heidi Schafer.

Schafer says right now the county is paying to outsource food services for jails and hospitals when they can do it themselves, “If we can start using our assets and outsourcing where we need to I think we can start chipping away at this monumental deficit.”

Schaffer and Burgess say the county must also get more competitive bids for projects.

In some cases, the city only gets one bid and they have to go with it.

“Let’s get innovative. Let’s see how we can attract and put these minority businesses or women owned businesses or whatever the case may be and let’s try to generate this money right here in Shelby County,” said Burgess.

In a letter to Mayor A C Wharton MCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said the school district is trying to overcome the shortfall by cutting central office staff and closing schools and reducing the student teacher ratio.

He says this will impact student success.

The ad hock Committee hopes to have their recommendations together within the next three months and they have a meeting Friday to work on the plan.