Shelby County mayor AC Wharton once said at a public gathering: “We have a saying in county government. ‘Don’t tax him. Don’t tax me. Tax the man behind the tree.’
In Shelby County, the man behind that tree usually is the city of Memphis taxpayer. The county’s 2009 certified tax rolls show why.
Despite the fear of some taxpayers this year that county taxpayers outside the city might get hit with drastic increases in tax value to make up for value declines in the city – a fear that showed up in letters to the editor and comments in The Commercial Appeal, among other places – a comparison of the 2008 and 2009 tax rolls does not bear that out.
Most of the increase in assessed value because of the 2009 reappraisal fell within Memphis. And in both 2008 and 2009, Memphis and Shelby County had roughly the same percentages of tax value – meaning taxpayers in those areas collectively carried about the same share of the overall county tax burden both years.
The assessed value within Memphis comprised about 61.4 percent of the county’s overall tax base in 2008. The county outside the city last year comprised about 38.5 percent of the county’s overall tax base.
This year, Memphis comprises 61.8 percent of the county’s overall tax base, and the county outside the city comprises 38.1 percent.