Sunday, July 20, 2008

Issues School Memphis On Its Priorities

The disagreement about school funding between Memphis City Council and Memphis City Schools is a crucial policy question that deserves the kind of careful judicial review that is taking place in Chancery Court.

Even if there had been a compromise to resolve the political dispute, there would still be the need for a definitive legal determination so city legislators will know if there is any chance that they could finally rationalize and equalize the current tax structure that punishes Memphis taxpayers.

This is a seminal question that will go a long way in determining if Memphis will have a reasonable chance to remove the tax burden that has forced so many people out of the city limits in search of an immediate increase in their disposable incomes by a reduction in taxes.

Eye On The Ball

While city school board members may be worried about the operations of Memphis City Schools, the greater priority is for all of us to be worried about staunching the lifeblood of Memphians leaving for greener pastures and lower tax rates. Otherwise, we may be racing headlong into a future in which fewer and fewer Memphians pay more and more in city taxes for city schools (and this doesn’t even take into account the fact that they will continue to pay twice for schools unlike any other residents of Shelby County).

In other words, there is a lot more at stake in Chancellor Kenny Armstrong’s court than the issue of school funding on the court’s docket. More fundamentally, it is about whether Memphis will be handcuffed into a tax system that undermines the city that it purports to serve and that limits seriously our ability to become attractive to young workers who prefer to live in the urbanized core of cities.

The best thing about the beginning of the court hearing is that the attorney gamesmanship that had been depreciating the quality of the public discussion has largely been eliminated. In this regard, the $152 million countersuit filed by the attorney for City Council was sophistry and casuistry at its worst.

Losing The High Ground

Worst of all, the countersuit blew up the high ground on which Memphis City Council had based its decision and lowered this crucial public policy question into just another game of political oneupsmanship. It was a disappointing turn of events, particularly in light of the fact that most Council members were unaware of the politically-charged plans for the counterclaim.

Unfortunately, the gratuitous claim resulted in an equally gratuitous broadside - filled with terms like illegal conduct, nonsensical argument, and 11th hour novel legal theory – from the attorney for Memphis City Schools. All of a sudden, this important question had degenerated from an important public policy decision to two attorneys who appeared to be fighting for headlines and treating this like it was a private legal battle.

Memphis City Council would do well to keep the public discussion and their rhetoric focused on tax equity and its pivotal influence on the future of Memphis. Instead, its countersuit gave this all the familiar trappings of politics as usual.

Other School News

And yet, the Chancery Court lawsuit – which is destined to end up in the Tennessee Supreme Court for the definitive decision needed on the core question – is important enough to suspend our normal retail politics long enough to have a reasoned public discussion about the issues at stake.

Meanwhile, there’s other school-related news in the headlines.

On the Shelby County Schools front, Superintendent Bobby Webb received perhaps the most preposterous pay raise in the history of the public sector, jacking up his salary by $56,500 to $231,750 a year. And to undermine the beating that Memphians take in these school issues, keep in mind that about $40,000 of the raise will be paid by city taxpayers - although they have no voice in the operations of Shelby County Schools or the election of its school board members.

Pension Envy

We’re sure it’s only a coincidence that Supt. Webb’s salary is being boosted just in time to affect his pension as he approaches what we are told is his 35th year in the state retirement system. In that system, we are told that the final pension amount is the average of the top five years’ salary, and with his raise, Mr. Webb just bumped up that average by about $11,000.

Meanwhile, the people who have the most to do with whether student academic performance really improves – county school teachers – will get 2% raises, compared to the superintendent’s 32%.

Ultimately, there was no way for the Shelby County Board of Commissioners to prevent the raise that the majority abhorred, and they were left with no options but to let Shelby County Schools move ahead with the hike. We thought Commissioner Mike Ritz’s resolution setting Supt. Webb’s raise at the same level as his teachers had merit, but there wasn’t any real way to enforce it.

Not Buying It

That doesn’t mean that anyone on the board of commissioners is really buying the county district’s argument that a big raise is necessary to keep their superintendent. If that is actually the case, the district should forward to the commissioners a list of all those other districts that have been knocking on the door to lure away this invaluable leader.

In the meantime, someone should deprogram PTSA president Becca Priddy who told the commissioners that perhaps the school district could teach county government something about efficiently managing taxpayers’ money. If Ms. Priddy is really interested in that kind of efficiency, we’re looking for the PTSA to call for a consolidated district where costs could really be reduced.

And to demonstrate an abhorrent lack of knowledge about local government, she asked what county government had done with “millions of dollars” collected by the wheel tax and diverted from education. The fact that nothing like that has remotely happened did nothing to keep her from perpetuating the myth that the wheel tax was a temporary tax only for schools. It said volumes about the kind of propaganda dished out by the county schools to his adherents.

The Wheel Deal

For the record, when the Shelby County Wheel Tax was passed, the uses of the bond funds were set out specifically and publicly communicated, and while education was the primary beneficiary, some of the bond funds were used for The Med and road construction. It’s worth remembering that Shelby County Government could not have legally issued the bonds without detailing the ways that the taxes would be spent and any deviation from that spending plan would jeopardize the bonds.

Then there were media reports suggesting that $7 million in improvements to Fairview Middle School could be a boondoggle for taxpayers. That opinion could only be true if the school is bulldozed to turn over the site as part of the plans for the 168-acre Fairgrounds to be transformed into a mixed-use development that anchors this critical area of Memphis.

It also presupposes that there is enough political muscle to push Memphis City Schools into allowing the demolition of one of Memphis’ last remaining Art Deco schools. In recent years, there have been some intriguing suggested uses of Fairview Middle School, particularly by former city district chief planner Louise Mercuro, and all of them should be explored before any consideration should be given to razing the school.

Imaginative Reuse

In that vein, if it is decided that the better use for the southeast corner of Central and East Parkway is for the school to be turned over to commercial development, we believe that with some imagination, adaptive reuse allows the school to continue its status as a historic landmark for Memphis.

If Poag-McEwen can envision such a future for the former Church of Christ at Highland and Midland, we are confident that the Fairgrounds team can envision a use that could become a symbol for our city’s new attention to sustainability.

The demolition of Fairview Middle School should be the last choice for the future of this site, and it shouldn’t even be on the table right now as Memphis City Schools weighs its best uses for the school’s future.


Finally, the last piece of school news that interested us wasn’t the “We Got Game” détente that Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton and new Superintendent Kriner Cash found on the basketball court (we’d have preferred a more substantive setting), but the investment that Mr. Cash appears to be willing to make to get former Miami security chief Gerald Darling to Memphis.

Last week, we wondered how Supt. Cash would invest the coveted political capital that he has during his honeymoon period. If he’s not careful, this could be just the kind of distraction that he doesn’t need as he tries to communicate his academic priorities. It could also be the kind of controversy that eliminates the honeymoon altogether and the luster of his newfound celebrity.

You only have a honeymoon once, and his love letters to Memphis need to be about improving student performance, reforming the district’s culture and installing a school-centric administration, rather than defending the controversial record in Miami of his new security chief.


Zippy the giver said...

Like I was saying, WHICH Millineum Group is he connecting with?
There are quite a few, some look like inappropriate for MCS and one looks OK.
What are their prices, projects, client lists?

Anonymous said...

Several good points, and please continue to hammer home the tax equities of city taxpayers double-subsidizing county-wide services. BUT: the distribution of education money is a political question, not a judicial question. State legislators should have settled the distribution inequities long ago. Whether the city-legislators' satisfaction at the city's 3:1 student and consequent school-funding ratio, the suburban legislators' fear of upsetting the separate school district apple-cart, or both of them avoiding (or threatening) race-mongering if the issue were addressed, the state legislators should have resolved the issue years ago, not waited for some judge to deliver from on high what should be a political decision.

antisocialist said...

I hate to upset the echo chamber, but we can use the Rural School Bond Revenue data, County Budget data, County Trustee Data, data from the School Boards, and Census data to get a more accurate handle on who is doing the subsidizing. Let's take a look:

Rural School Bond Revenue for FY 2008 was $3,310,463 and the Rural School Bond tax rate is .05 cents. At a tax rate of 2.02 for all schools, County residents outside of Memphis contributed $133,742,714 to both school systems.

The total County property tax collected for both school systems totaled $361,288,000. City of Memphis taxpayers contributed 227,545,286 (63%) and residents of the County outside of Memphis contributed $133,742,714 (37%).

According to Census data, Memphis residents make up 74% of the total population of Shelby County while residents in the County outside the City make up 26% of the population. That means that County residents living outside the City of Memphis contribute a whopping $559 per person towards the schools, while City of Memphis residents contribute only $339 per person. Meanwhile, there are a total of 164,000 students enrolled in both school systems. However, only 27% of those students are in Shelby County Schools, while the vast majority of those students (73%) are enrolled in Memphis City Schools.

Keep in mind that the reason the City of Memphis can contribute funds directly to Memphis City Schools is because Memphis City Schools is a special school district. Conversely, if the Town of Collierville wanted to contribute funds directly to the Shelby County Schools, its contribution would be subject to the ADA formula. Arguably, it would be more equitable for County residents living outside the City of Memphis if the County Schools were made a special school district.

It appears that the City Schools are in reality being subsidized by County residents living outside of Memphis. Based on enrollment, Memphis residents probably should be paying about $393 per person and County residents living outside of Memphis should be paying about $407 per person. In other words, City residents are paying about $54 LESS per person than they should and County residents living outside the City of Memphis are paying about $151 MORE per student than they should (unless, of course, your mantra is "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need").

OK, let's say County Government should be responsible for funding all school waste. Let's take a look at who would be doing the subsidizing once the additional $93 million is factored into the equation. Total school funding from County Government would be $454,292,830 of which $168,171,531 would come from taxpayers in the County outside of Memphis, and $286,121,300 would come from Memphis taxpayers ($703 per person outside of Memphis and $426 per person inside of Memphis). In other words, County residents would then be subsidizing City Schools to the tune of $45,512,466.56 based on enrollment.

I realize now why the Memphis City Schools does not want the County Schools to become a Special School District.

Smart City Consulting said...


There's a way for Collierville to contribute to its schools without being subject to ADA or without the need for a special school district, at least that was what previous legal opinions have said. The special school district push by county schools isn't motivated by equitable funding or giving the towns legal options. It's all about politics and control and institutionalizing the isolationist tendencies of these towns. The truly equitable thing to do is to consolidate both districts and save money (consolidation in other Tennessee cities saw costs go down). As for the special school district, the independent study by University of Memphis showed that it favored county schools at the expense of city schools and that there is no real basis for its creation. Again, it seems clear to most Shelby Countians that eliminating the duplication of services and costs of two systems should be priorities.

As for the tax, it seems a basic feature of tax policy that it's all about shifting revenues from the well-to-do to pay for services for the less well-to-do, so we don't find some sacrilege in county taxpayers outside Memphis paying a fairer share of their responsibility for regional services.

A detailed study conducted several years ago showed how city taxpayers were being double taxed for numerous services, especially education. It also factored in more than property taxes, but also local option sales taxes and other revenue sources.

As your numbers point out, it is glaring how much the property tax base in Memphis has declined as a result of the county's subsidy of sprawl and the $2 billion investment in suburban lifestyles, and how willing county government was to allow this development although it results in the decay of Memphis neighborhoods. Also, as we have pointed out, people living outside of Memphis generally pay a lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than Memphians, because of the inherent unfairness of the local tax structure.

As a result, Memphians are overtaxed in regard to their capacity to pay and in the double taxation on so many services that results in cost shifting for public services to city residents. Your numbers also show the problems that result from a system based largely on regressive tax sources, but that's a much broader subject.

Finally, and directly to the point, the special school district that you describe - one for city and one for county - would be yet another nail in the coffin for Memphis and would be yet another example of public largesse to a surburban lifestyle that was largely funded by Memphians to their own detriment.

antisocialist said...

As a Memphis resident, I posted the above analysis because I once assumed that County residents outside of Memphis were getting a free ride. I was under this assumption based on regular reading of this blog.

Obviously, the data demonstrates that County residents are not getting a free ride.

Prior to examining the data for myself, I lost a bet with someone in suburbia when challenged to look at the school funding tax revenue distribution for myself!

Hopefully, by shining light on the data, other Memphians will not blindly assume County residents outside of Memphis are getting a free ride just because you say so, and hopefully they will avoid the embarrassment of being wrong about this matter.

Why should County residents outside of Memphis want to join a failed school system - regardless of the reason for the failure?

Why shouldn't members of the community have choice over where they live, work, and send their kids to school?

Why should someone in Collierville, for example, pay for a joint Memphis-County Planning Division when they have their own planning department?

Why should a Bartlett resident subsidize a jail in Memphis when Bartlett has its own jail?

Maybe if the City of Memphis had more to offer educationally, culturally, and economically, more families would choose to live there?

Or do you really wanty to force people to live where YOU want them to live? Like that would even work. Families would instead move to places like Desoto County.

If MCS were cranking out merit scholars by the handful, the line to get into the system would exceed the line to get out of the system.

Take my neighbor for example; he lives in Memphis and works at the Carrier plant in Collierville. The only thing standing in the way of him moving to Collierville is that he can't afford a house there.

Zippy the giver said...

Antidisestablishmentarianism, I'm glad you did do that research!
It's not really helping my spirits to know that absolutely everyone is being ripped off though.
With the economy going down the drain instead of that whirlpool swirl just before the flushing of the toilet is complete, people don't have money and to continue to live in a city which has NO HEART and sees fit to RIP OFF ALL CITIZENS UNEQUALLY is beyond even the poorest person's reasoning.
This issue is about the self respect of the adults and the education of all the children.
Would you also posit that the county children are better or more important than the city children?
Maybe you don't recognize the attitude as the self centered "I'm gettin Mine's" attitude that is exactly the Mindset of the "leadership" that has both the county and the city in the shape they're in now. Leadership that has so far been trying to push the idea that stating all the reasonable sounding systemic problems plus the verty predictable resulting failure is acceptable to everyone and valid WHICH IT IS NOT. Absolutely not! That's as bad as saying" what do you mean murdering your wife and kids is a crime, officer? I didn't know that! You have to let me go because I didn't know that."

Anonymous said...

One point is indisputable: county government abetted and subsidized the enrichment of developers (who paid legal bribes to county politicians) like the Hynemans and the poster child for public/private corruption, Jackie Welch, at the expense of the citizens and the city of Memphis, and to its detriment. They made back room deals to build schools where Welch had his land and to extend sewers to abet the metastisizing sprawl that continues to cost Memphis and Shelby County hundreds of millions of dollars unnecesarily. This wasn't "choice" folks. It was a caclulated effort by Welch and his slimy peers to use their money and bagmen to buy votes. period. Some day, perhaps after Welch has 'earned' himself a Crumplike statue from the politicians he's bough and paid for, someone will write some actual true history of what those slimeballs did to cause Shelby County to get into billions of dollars of public debt.

Smart City Consulting said...


Isolating school funding to support an argument that county residents are paying a fair share of services is a shallow measurement. Most of all, this is about capacity to pay and the amount paid as percentage of income.

There is no way that your friend in suburbia can argue that he is paying his fair share when he pays a smaller amount of his income in taxes, when he takes advantage of amenities paid for by Memphians but not him, when he pays once for schools, etc.

He may say he pays more money in taxes. That's not the same as saying he pays his fair share. Let's say this as directly as we can: the current tax system is not fair and places an unfair burden for region-wide services on Memphis taxpayers.

City residents are paying 65% of the $2 billion debt incurred to pay for suburban sprawl (your friend in suburbia doesn't even pay actual costs or impact fees), Memphians pay 100% of museums and amenities, they pay 85% of joint services, they pay twice for schools, for health care, for arenas, etc. In other words, the present system is patently unfair.

As we have proposed, all of these should be on the county tax base. While the tax structure's inherent unfairness cannot now be corrected, we can at least put regional services on the regional tax base.

That's the first step toward tax fairness. We need to define what a municipal service is, all cities should then pay for these, and everything else should be moved to the county tax base. That would reduce the Memphis tax base and put the city on a level playing field with the towns.

Smart City Consulting said...

We forgot to respond to your other questions.

We don’t want to tell people where to live, but we do want them to pay the costs of the lifestyle they are choosing. Why should the rest of us pay for suburban sprawl that we do not want and infrastructure that we do not use.

County residents would not join a failed school system. It would be a totally new system – one district, countywide. As for us, if Shelby County Schools delivers such a superior product, they could always prove it countywide. As we have said, the true evidence that the county district is a high-performing system is to compare it with districts where students have similar socio-economic backgrounds. We believe that county schools are average, and that’s why both districts need to be shaken up and improved. By the way, the last time we checked, it was Memphis City Schools that had schools on the list of the nation’s best, not Shelby County Schools.

The towns have holding jails, and that’s why they are anxious to transfer people to the Shelby County Jail. And once they are sentenced, they don’t serve in the Bartlett Correctional Center. They serve their sentence in the Shelby County Correction Center.

Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development is largely funded from special sources, so that’s probably not a good example for you to use, although its building inspectors do inspect buildings and its planners do handle regional transportation planning.

In other words, this is a very complicated question, and that’s why a couple of weeks ago we laid out the scope of work for a plan that should be undertaken to address these issues once and for all in hopes of developing a tax structure that is fair to all taxpayers in Shelby County by leveling out tax responsibilities in a coherent way.

Anonymous said...


You're getting flumoxed by your friend. Also, run the numbers where you show the per capita taxes of people who actually pay them. Back out those in poverty in the city and in the county and then tell us what the numbers show.

regardless, it's not really about the numbers. It's about equity, and this blog is right in saying it is.

antisocialist said...

I wasn't isolating anything. I simply demonstrated the unequivocal fact that County residents outside of the City of Memphis pay a disproportionate share of school funding. You say this isn't fair. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. It doesn't mean you are right and it does not change the facts.

You suggested arenas are an amenity that Memphians pay for twice, and that may be true. Let's talk about fairness, though, since that is appears to be the crux of your bellyaching. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of professional basketball. I absolutely did not approve of my taxes funding any part of the FedEx Forum. In retrospect, the arena has done absolutely squat to measurably enhance my quality of life (without even retiring the Pyramid arena debt!).

As I recall, there was a grassroots effort to allow the taxpayers to vote on the Arena question. That seemed like a perfectly fair and reasonable approach for a such an expensive proposition. As I further recall, those in power (and possibly some of their political appointees) aggressively fought to keep the taxpayers from voting on the matter. I wonder what you were up to at that time.

Anyhow, it seems “patently unfair” for me to pay for a basketball arena I did not want or need that does not benefit me in any way. Sometimes life is just unfair. If the County residents outside of Memphis are involved in something illegal with respect to their property tax rate(s), that is one thing. Apparently, no one in authority gave a damn about “fairness” when it came to basketball. Why should I get worked up because you think some people in the community aren't paying their “fairer” share.

Anyhow, in the big scheme of things, I am not convinced that Memphians are saddled with an unfair burden based on their proportional use of the services and amenities in question. You say they pay twice for schools. I have already demonstrated they pay much less than County residents outside the City of Memphis based on population and enrollment. As for health care services, I bet Memphians are over-represented in their use of the MSCHD as well as the Med as compared to other County residents. The same is likely true of the jails, and possibly even the jails in the other municipalities!

As far as museums are concerned, I am unclear what you are talking about. The Pink Palace Museum System? Is this a large part of the City or the County's budget? Don't these places charge user fees. Shouldn't we welcome tourism dollars when someone from Arlington or points beyond pays to use one of these services. In the past month or so, I visited a museum in New Orleans and a museum in Chicago. They gladly took my entry fee payment. They didn't complain that my property taxes need to be raised. Maybe the museums here need a better business plan.

If you're going to keep griping about fairness, I'll concede that better definition regarding municipal services would be in order. I'll add that identifying who uses and benefits most from these services should also be defined. I disagree that merely defining the services means that all such services should automatically be shifted to the County tax base.

antisocialist said...

In my view, those in the municipalities enjoy lower property tax rates largely because they live in well managed communities that offer good quality services. Conversely, the City does not seem to be as well run anymore.

When you assert without solid evidence that “the rest of us” pay for sprawl, I wonder what data you choose to “isolate”. For example, over a period of years, I watched as MLG&W upgraded gas lines all over the inner city, including at my house. They did not charge me a fee for this improvement. Presumably, the cost was passed on to all ratepayers, including those living amid sprawl. Do you take into account costs like this when measuring fairness? I bet you don't. What about when the power goes out in my neighborhood during a storm because of overhead power lines. I don't pay a direct fee to get my lights back on. The guys in the cherry picker are getting paid, and people in sprawl with their buried power lines are sharing in the cost to maintain the older infrastructure. Do you factor in this cost when assessing fairness? I bet you don't.

Absent giving parents true choices in education, generally the poor will be saddled with the failing City Schools, while others will put their children in County schools or private schools if they can afford it.

Given the current options, how the County schools stack up against some other school in some other community is immaterial. If you really care about a solution to the school issue, push for vouchers. Provide the kids in the worst schools with vouchers. How silly of me though. If you allow things like freedom and choice to encroach into education, you lose the ability to indoctrinate children into the socialist view.

As far as all the jails and the correctional center; once again I submit that Memphians make up more than their “fair share” of the incarcerated population.

Is the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development really funded “largely” from “special sources”. Presumably, the regional transportation planning (MPO) is funded largely by “special sources” - transportation grant funds. I believe you are being disingenuous though. I doubt “special sources” pay for land use planning and comprehensive planning, but if they do, I'd be interested to know what those “special sources” are. As I hinted earlier, Collierville, for example, has its own land use planning, comprehensive planning, engineering, and building inspection staff. I see no reason that someone in Collierville should also pay much of anything for those services in a joint Memphis/County planning office or division. All of this talk about “special sources” does not diminish my point – that this is another example of taxpayers in Shelby County outside of Memphis paying a disproportionate share of services based upon use.

I am a Memphian, and I am not arguing that anyone should not be paying more taxes with respect to their income. However, as I have demonstrated, those in sprawl already pay more for services based on population, demand for, and use of services. At some point you risk taxing the producers in the community so heavily that they will abandon Memphis and Shelby County completely. You kick a dog so many times and it's going to leave your porch. Then who will pay for the schools?

You suggest that Memphians are getting a bad tax deal. I believe the reverse to be true. It seems to me that with respect to payment and use of services, other County residents are getting a raw deal. I doubt the City of Millington has collected a dime of sales tax revenue from a Grizzlies game, yet they're paying for the arena too. I am not about arguing, I am about solutions. I believe the City of Memphis should be divided into a handful of smaller municipalities, and the school system along with it. The County should CONTINUE to provide the consolidated services they already provide.

I don't mean to be a hater. I'm just offering some creative solutions to the current mess.

Smart City Consulting said...


We seem to be devolving into the swapping of anecdotes instead of discussing the core issue of an inequitable tax structure.

Here's the thing. Someone living in Memphis in a $150,000 house will pay almost $2,000 more than someone living in the sprawl of unincorporated Shelby County.

Not only are those Memphians paying more in taxes, but they are paying a greater percentage of their income in taxes. The fundamental unfairness of our tax system is that the more you make, the less you pay in terms of percentage of income. We're on of the few states with that kind of upside-down tax policy.

The reason that the smaller municipalities have lower tax rates has nothing to do with efficiency or better management, and all to do with county's subsidies to them for decades. It was in acknowledgement of that fact that Mayor Wharton changed county policies on libraries, parks, ambulances, and road construction.

As we have said, if we moved regional services to the regional tax base, the Memphis tax rate would be comparable to Germantown and Collierville's. In other words, if all municipal governments delivered similar services, their tax rates would largely be the same, belying any suggestion of magical management in the towns.

One footnote: we're not sure about these taxes of yours going to pay for FedEx Forum. Most of them are sales tax captured from sales in the building, in the downtown tourism development zone, in the rental of cars at the airport, etc. We don't pay taxes based on what we personally use. After all, most of us here don't have kids in schools, we don't use public health, we don't check out books at the library, etc., but we recognize that as a citizen, we have the responsibility to fund the basic services of a major city.

antisocialist said...

I can't help but notice you squawk about alleged unfairness that presumably offends your personal aesthetic (i.e. sprawl), yet you patently ignore the profound unfairness in not allowing a public vote on the NBA arena.

The tax revenue sources funding the arena are really beside the point. Nonetheless, if I use the airport, or rent a car, or dine in the entertainment district, a tax is levied upon me to fund basketball at the expense of other priorities (or better yet leaving money in my own pocket).

Furthermore, if established benchmarks for attendance are not met, and the basketball team moves to another town, who will be responsible for paying the debt?

Anonymous said...

A while ago, when faced with a reasonable argument that you found unsavory, you derided me as intellectually unarmed. Considering that you do not know me whatsoever and that my observations were entirely sensible, such an unwarranted attack on me seemed the refuge of a coward and a scoundrel.

How ironic that you since decided to devote so much time in a feeble attempt to refute my analysis.

It seems as if you are upset that I have shone bright light on the truth regarding just how much more County residents outside of Memphis pay for school funding.

Just think, if it weren't for the rural school bond, the truth would still be buried.

Life ain't fair. All of your discriminate whining about fairness rings hollow when faced with the truth.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line, memphis should give up its charter and force Shelby County's hand. At least get out of the school business and force the vastly superior Shelby County schools to show us what they can really do when given the same students MCS have. For the record, I live in Germantown and my 3 children attend SCS, but I'm under no illusion they are a bunch of geniuses as they would have you believe, just because they have a much higher percentage of middle class and upper class kids to draw from than MCS........and the voucher issue....we all know that's a right wing attempt to subsidize tuition for current private school parents, but answer me this: if a parent is given a voucher, will that parent have the right to demand his child's admission into any private school? Will the private schools have to take EVERYONE, like the public schools have to? Will that voucher cover the entire cost of tuition at say, MUS? Or will the best private schools cherry pick the best students and leave the rest to find somewhere else to be warehoused? I'm as concerned with failing public schools as anyone, and the MCS needs its institutional chain jerked HARD, but vouchers are a trojan horse, and anyone who denies that is obtuse or just an outright liar.

Zippy the giver said...

What a pissy argument.
Everyone pays too much, the system must be struck.
Consolidation and mayoral control are a must. Cultural transformation is key to success.
I have yet to hear the term "city plan" anywhere.
Do we even have one?
I think there needs to be a lawsuit to determine if the current tax system is unfair, which it is, and if overtaxation is even legal, which it isn't, and where the money is actually going down to the penny, because that pie chart is telling!

Smart City Consulting said...

We've enjoyed this discussion, but let us say it again, and it has been proven in numerous research by city, county and state studies, there is a fundamental inequality in the Memphis tax structure and the burden that sprawl has placed on Memphians. As Mayor Wharton has said only a couple of weeks ago, sprawl is unsustainable for the environment, for public finance, and for qualty of life.

Smart City Consulting said...

Anonymous 5:56: We believe that we were replying in kind, and we apologize for that.

Anonymous said...

What dolts!! The tax numbers are red herrings, and Republican dolt Rout used the same argument when he was trying to let the tiny towns surround Memphis. He lost the battle then and they're losing it now. It's about who should be paying for things like MATA, and it's county taxpayers. City residents are paying for things that the entire county uses and that's just not right. Also, you guys got me interested in the arena vote. It wasn't voted on, but there was a poll taken by Walter Bailey - who was against it - that showed that it would have passed.

antisocialist said...

Anon 5:56 was me. I must've screwed up the word verification or something. Sometimes, it seem to misfire using Firefox.

I agree that you have replied in kind throughout this thread. The unwarranted insult was in another thread, where you dismissed me as intellectually challenged in response to a reasonable point I made with which you disagreed.

Anyhow, no matter what any of these studies claim to "prove", it seems we'd first have to agree on what fundamental inequality means. At this point, it appears we are from being in agreement about that.

Smart City Consulting said...

amtisocialist: Again, we apologize. We must have been having a bad day.

Here's the thing: the question of an inequitable tax structure is not a mathematical equation. It is about capacity to pay, the regressivity of the structure, and the connection between tax sources and service delivery.

We've enjoyed this conversation.

antisocialist said...

I was making a point rather than seeking an apology. The point got lost in the shuffle, but the apology is appreciated nonetheless.

I agree that the question of an inequitable tax structure is not purely a mathematical equation. What is in dispute are the criteria that define an inequitable tax structure.

I have enjoyed the conversation as well.