County mayor revises ‘three-car’ fee proposal for MATA funds

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After weeks of criticism and backlash, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced he is modifying his public transportation plan that would invest $10 million a year into MATA.

When Harris first presented this plan last month, he proposed households that own three or more cars would pay an extra $145 for each vehicle. Now in a statement, he said he’s adjusting that plan. Instead of $145 for each vehicle, it’ll be one yearly fee.

Candice Barber says right now her family owns two cars, but with a 16- and 14-year-old, she’s expecting that number to increase.

“Like gosh dang, I’m going to pay more money. That’s the way it is right?” she said.

According to a written statement by the county mayor, Barber would be a part of the 17% of households that own three or more vehicles in the county.

Traffic congestion and car emissions are problems that will only get worse, and households or businesses with three cars are using that infrastructure more and producing more wear and tear, Harris said.

That’s where the $145 sustainability fee on those households came in, as Harris’ solution to fund public transit. He’s projecting it will raise up to $10 million annually.

But not everyone was on board.

“I’m kind of down the middle on it, I think. I mean, I really don’t want the extra charge," said county resident Kenzey Wilson.

In response to community feedback, Harris says the revised plan will be one yearly fee of $145 “whether you own three cars or ten.”

He also says motorcycles, antique cars, trailers and boats will not be included in the fee.

Barber said she's OK with paying the fee to support public transit.

“I’m willing to pay it," she said. "I’m not happy about it but i think whatever we can do for our community to help someone get a ride someplace, that’s OK.”

Wilson also said she would support the revised fee plan.

“I think that’s more fair, the one flat fee,” she said.

Harris says the changes will not affect the projected $10 million revenue projection.

His administration is seeking a commission vote on the plan by February.

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