Strickland: De-annexation could be 'devastating'

Strickland: De-annexation could be 'devastating'
Published: Mar. 15, 2016 at 9:59 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2016 at 9:33 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new bill that passed through the Tennessee House legislature has some officials biting their nails.

"It's like they have an ultimate vendetta and grudge against the City of Memphis," city council member Berlin Boyd said.

Mayor Jim Strickland called the de-annexation bill potentially devastating to the City of Memphis. The bill would allow areas to de-annex themselves from cities.

For example, the bill would allow Cordova to de-annex from Memphis in a matter a few years.

"We're not going to roll over," city council member Joe Brown said. "Let's fight. I don't care if it takes 100 years. We're not going to give anything back."

Strickland's administration said the city stands to lose 111,000 residents and somewhere between $27 million and $80 million in tax revenue. To make up for those losses, he said the city would have to raise property taxes by somewhere between 30 and 70 cents.

"That would be significant," Strickland said. "The combined city-county property tax right now is $7.77. This would push us over $8."

City leaders said taxes that high could prevent future growth.

"We need to keep our tax rate as low as we possibly can to draw people and draw business in here, and this would have a negative impact on that," Strickland said.

Strickland said the county would most likely have to raise taxes as well to pay for the increases in services.

Now, the mayor and council are scrambling to find a way to convince the state senate to change course and avoid potentially bankrupting the city.

"If Memphis fails, it impacts the entire state of Tennessee," Strickland said. "So this is not an 'us against y'all' type of scenario. We're all one state."

The mayor will be in Nashville on Wednesday to lobby against the bill. WMC Action News 5 will have a team there to bring you full coverage.

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