• Public safety referendum passed, sales tax will increase half a percent

    By: Kody Leibowitz

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Voters elected to raise the Memphis sales tax to increase pension and benefits for police and firefighters.

    Back in 2014, City Council cuts benefits and pension for public safety personnel. The unions sued and that case is still pending.

    >>Public safety referendum passed, MFD and MPD celebrates restoration of benefits

    Voters passed the public safety referendum – 52% to 48% Thursday night. 

    The sales tax will increase half a percent to 2.75% with police and fire unions pushing to fund and restore pensions and benefits to pre-2015 levels for hundreds of officers.

    In recent weeks, the City of Memphis has acknowledged it legally doesn’t have to use the new tax for its intended purposes. But there was a different tone on Friday from City Hall. 


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    “We are currently working on implementing the will of the voters,” Ursula Madden, chief communications officer for the Strickland Administration wrote in a statement. “There are several moving parts that we are working through but hope to have a definitive plan soon.”

    Shelby County could through a wrench in the plans. 

    A staffer told FOX13 Friday that Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford, Jr. planned to introduce legislation to raise the county sales tax.

    It would essentially split the revenue from the public safety referendum, if passed.

    If it did pass, the county would split revenue with other cities and towns that raised their taxes in recent years.

    “I would like to see what county commissioners are going to vote to take money and revenues from the individual districts that they represent – for education,” said Mike Williams, president of Memphis Police Association.

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