MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - It's not over until "we" the people say it is. That's the message from Cordova residents who want to give the City of Memphis the boot, but they got some bad news today from the Tennessee Attorney General. He issued an opinion saying residents don't have the power to demand a referendum to de-annex. It's entirely up to city council to start that process. So that's what Cordova residents are focusing now: city council.
The group called "Cordova's Voice" met at the Old Community Center located at 1017 North Sanga Road Thursday night. Their mission: collect at least 40,000 signatures and give it to the Memphis City Council to persuade the council to put the annexation issue on the ballot.
“They do represent the people of Memphis and this is the people of Memphis doing a petition drive," said the group's leader, Joshua Fox.
The group petitioned the Shelby County Election Commission last month to make a referendum to allow citizens to vote about de-annexation. It didn’t happen.
“We’ve never lost hope at all," stated Fox.
Now they’re taking a different route and asking Memphis City Council to do it.
“It’s not if this is going to happen, it’s when it’s going to happen," said Fox.
State Representative Steve McManus said it might be a little tough to convince city council to de-annex the entire Cordova area when property taxes bring in much needed revenue to the city.
“The thought of the city right now de-annexing an area that’s been a good revenue base for years is pretty unthinkable," he said. “I think south Cordova, which was recently annexed, has a pretty good chance.”
If City Council says no to the referendum then Cordova residents have a Plan B.
“We’re going to take the petition to the state and we have several legislators that are going to change the law for us to make it where the citizens can do this,” said Fox.
Residents were leery about winning this battle but lawmakers are in the midst of rewriting laws that can favor Cordova residents in the end.
“Right now there’s a lot of emphasis at the state regarding this annexation and de-annexation issues as cities become more and more strapped for cash," said Rep. McManus. “We now passed a law that basically says you can’t annex until I believe 2014.”
All they have to do is collect piles of signatures and keep making enough noise to public officials. Next Saturday on June 22, "Cordova’s Voice” will be meeting at the old community center again to collect signatures. They'll arrive at 9 a.m. If you would like a copy of the petition, go to their Facebook page