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City moves ahead on school vote

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With what was essentially a procedural vote out of the way, Bartlett officials can turn their sites toward other issues in creating a new school district.

The Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 during a special call meeting Monday night to repeal a previous referendum that established a new school district in 2012. After that passed, the board immediately voted to hold a new referendum on July 16 that will establish another new school district.

The aldermen voted without discussion. Bobby Simmons was absent.

Mayor Keith McDonald had said previously that the vote was necessary to set up the structure that will establish one of six proposed municipal districts in Shelby County. If residents vote to approve the district, as they did in 2012, Bartlett will break away from the newly formed unified Shelby County school district, made from the former Shelby County and Memphis City schools.

City Clerk Stefanie McGee said the board will have a second reading of both ordinances during its May 14 meeting. A public hearing is scheduled for May 23, after which the ordinances are expected to become law.

Meanwhile, the city is turning its sites toward what Mayor McDonald has said could be a “laborious” series of budget meetings. The board was having a special call meeting Tuesday night, during which the mayor had intended to review the budget line-by-line with aldermen.

McDonald already said that taxpayers are should expect to see an increase in the tax rate this year, even if residents don’t pay more in taxes than they did last year. A drop in assessment values means the city must raise the tax rate to achieve the same income the city had last year without adding or cutting services, he said.

So far, the city has not said how much that tax rate increase might be. McGee said she believed aldermen would not consider the budget during their May 14 meeting, but would have to consider it by the May 28 meeting because of the July 1 deadline to adopt the 2013-2014 fiscal budget.

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