Shelby Co. wheel tax could increase to pay for public transportation

WATCH: Shelby Co. wheel tax could increase to pay for public transportation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A tax that was supposed to go away years ago could go up to pay for public transportation.

Shelby County residents could see an increase by as much as $20 to the wheel tax.

That fee is what motorists pay to drive on roads in Shelby County.

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Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr. said he is not in favor of a $20 increase and said that would not go over well with his constituents.

“Oh I better wear a bulletproof vest if I’m going to talk about the wheel tax in my district, because every time I have a community meeting, I would say 50 percent of the time, the disdain on having the wheel tax still exists,” said Ford.

Ford said the wheel tax was only supposed to be around temporarily. It’s been around since the mid 1980s.

Some of the money was used for Shelby County Schools.

Now the goal is to use the proposed increase to pay for MATA and drivers have mixed opinions.

“I don’t think it would be so bad as long as they don’t go over 20 dollars, but it’s for MATA. might help the transportation system,” said Herders Wright, a Shelby County driver.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris plans to talk to the County Commission Wednesday about the benefits of investing $10 million into public transit.

He said it would boost the economy, but drivers aren’t so sure about the price tag.

“I think that’s a bit much for that. It’s a bit much because you might not even have it nowadays, the extra money on hand. All the violence and all the crime. People just don’t have the extra money right now,” said Sandra Jeffries, a Shelby County driver.

Three commissioners are sponsoring the bill. Van Turner is one of it’s supporters.

In a statement Turner told FOX13, “I sponsored this item for discussion purposes per our rules. At this point, I am not committed to any plan until the commission and the citizens of Shelby County have had an opportunity to vet the Mayor’s plans and review all options.”

The mayor is set to pitch that plan Wednesday at 9 a.m.