Commissioners Agree School District Is Done With Cuts

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(Memphis) After doing away with hundreds of jobs and tightening insurance plans, it looks like Shelby County Schools may be done with budget cuts.

County commissioners still haven’t agreed on a tax rate, but they do seem to agree, for the first time, that the school district can’t take any more hits.

Commissioners are deadlocked on a property tax rate, but they are floating a plan that would keep taxes the same and require the county to cut nearly $10 million more from the budget.

The majority of commissioners don’t want the tax increase Mayor Mark Luttrell is proposing, but they can’t decide what it should be either.

Commissioner Melvin Burgess believes the school district needs some assurances, and the commission can’t offer many.

“The school district has been cut to the marrow. It’s been cut past the bone, eighteen to nineteen percent in the central office. This is about 300 jobs of people we laid off!” said Burgess.

Wednesday Commissioners Terry Roland and Heidi Shafer agreed introducing a new plan that use the $4.32 certified rate that basically keeps property taxes the same for everyone, but it requires more budget cuts: a 4.6 percent cut to all departments, except education.

“I think the schools have done their share I don’t think we out of the county general fund have done our share yet,” said Shafer.

The plan didn’t get enough votes to pass, but could be reconsidered Monday.

Roland says he doesn’t appreciate his compromise being looked over.

“You don’t slap me in the face and try to make me pay you! Those kinds of tactics don’t work. In my world when you slap someone in the face you get slapped back,” said Roland.

Mayor Luttrell says not passing the certified rate and not cutting from schools could cause major cuts to county personnel.

Personnel make up 70 percent of the budget.

“We know that with a 9.6 million deficit it could be as many as 400 to 500 people,” said Luttrell.

News Channel 3 tried to talk with Superintendent of schools Dorsey Hopson today to see what he had to say about the good news, but the school district said any questions about the budget should be passed to commission.

Hopson was not at Wednesday’s budget meeting.