Madison County denied injunction against Jackson in sales tax funding dispute

The story is by Omer Yusuf , USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee, and printed in the Jackson Sun online yesterday. We here did not expect that Judge Butler to rule in favor of the county but to have a judge state that there was ” there is no irreparable harm” to quote the paper is a joke, but considering it came from a public servant, we could understand his point of view. That is how he is paid. If had it cut into his paycheck, he might consider the ruling differently. Of course he must have felt some urge to agree with the county since he inserted “mediation” into the ruling even though it is probably nonbinding.

The question now falls on the city which has viewed the tax funds gathered through this special option sales tax as its personal property. Do you honestly think it will stop there. The body of representatives that you elected to protect you has decided to turn on you and you must decide how they should be dealt with.

Madison County was denied a temporary injunction in its lawsuit against the City of Jackson by Judge James Butler in Madison County Chancery Court on Tuesday afternoon.

Butler ruled against Madison County because there is no irreparable harm from the city’s decision to redirect its portion of the local option sales tax back to its general fund instead of putting it toward the Jackson-Madison County School System.

“I felt he has looked at both sides of the issue, and while I disagree and I’m disappointed in the decision, the judge took us through the steps and his ruling was based on the way he perceived the law to be — and you have to accept that, and we’ll go forward with the trial,” Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris said.

If the county had received the temporary injunction the city would have continued to send its portion of the local option sales tax to the Jackson-Madison County School System until a resolution was reached between the city and county.

Butler also ruled the county and city must enter meditation, but there is no timetable on when the mediation will begin. Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist said the city fully intends to meet with the county to discuss the issue.

“I hope (the conversation) will be about the city and county — that’s what this whole thing is about,” Gist said. “We’ve just continued all along that the city residents are paying more than their fair share for public education. Once we get into mediation and talk about why that’s happening, hopefully we can correct it.”

Next steps for Madison County

After being denied the temporary injunction, the county must find a way to raise $12 million in funding for JMCSS just a day after approving a $195 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

A combination of a property tax increase and a wheel tax are likely ways for the county to address its sudden revenue shortfall, Harris said.

“There’s issues with both — not only instigating them but the process to do that, as well as the judge mentioned the collection of them,” Harris said. “Probably 70 percent of the property tax is collected in December, February and January. So, we’re going to have a cash flow issue and we’ll have to address that in the interim before the property taxes come in.”

One issue that arises with a wheel tax for the county is since the county commission would have to approve the wheel tax with a two-thirds vote in two consecutive meetings, the earliest it could be implemented would be Sept. 1. Both tax increases also come after the July 1 deadline for this year’s fiscal budget.

Harris said the county commission will probably hold a special meeting, but no date has been set.

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