June 23, 2023 7:00am

Low support for higher taxes

Power Poll voters oppose property tax hikes, prefer wheel-tax increase

Photo of David Waters
Memphis, TN Correspondent

Power Poll Memphis members have strong feelings about raising taxes.

A record number of members (384) responded to this month's poll about proposals to raise city and county taxes this year. Generally, they oppose a city or county property tax increase, and they tend to favor increasing the county's wheel tax.

Local elected officials are considering proposals for all three.

The Memphis City Council has discussed increasing the city's property tax rate from $2.71 to $3 (per $100 of assessed value) -- a 10 percent increase.

The increase would be used to provide more funding for MATA, the city’s solid waste fund, an affordable housing trust fund, and an opportunity youth fund.

The council could vote on the proposal June 27.

A majority of Power Poll voters disagree with the proposed tax increase. Thirty-two percent strongly disagree and another 20 percent somewhat disagree.

Only 39 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agree. Ten percent are undecided.

Meanwhile, Shely County Commissioner Erika Sugarmon has suggested raising county's property tax from $3.39 to $3.69 (per $100 of assessed value) -- a nearly 9 percent increase.

The increase would be used to create what Sugarmon calls an "equity injection budget" and as an alternative to a wheel-tax increaes.

The commission is scheduled to meet again June 26.

A majority of Power Poll voters also oppose a county property tax hike.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents strongly disagree with the proposed increase; another 16 percent somewhat disagree.

Only 35 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agree with it. Eleven percent are undecided.

Power Poll voters feel better about Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris's proposal to increase the county's wheel tax.

The current proposal would double the tax on commercial vehicles to $160, double the tax on private passenger vehicles to $100, increase the tax on motorcycles to $70 and to $75 for vehicles used by nonprofits.

Harris says the extra revenue would be used to to fund construction of a new Regional One hospital and two high schools.

The county commission rejected Harris's initial proposal by one vote earlier this month, but could revisit the matter June 26.

In the Power Poll, 53 percent of the voters strongly or somewhat agree with the proposal. Forty-one percent disagree. Another seven percent are undecided.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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