South Cordova Group Continues Push to Leave Memphis

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Updated: 5/10/2013 9:06 am
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Months after they say they were surprised to be annexed into Memphis, a growing number of South Cordova residents say they're fed up and want to de-annex.

"I don't think there was any benefit we didn't have already with the county," said Lynn Sharbe, who lives in a neighborhood annexed by the City of Memphis in July.

"Taxes have doubled. We have gone from only paying county taxes to double taxes," he added.

On Thursday night, more than 200 people packed the Cordova Community Center to hear the latest efforts to de-annex from Memphis.

"I understand they can do it by law, but it is just right and wrong, and it is wrong, so we are trying to make it right," said Joshua Fox, one of the organizers of "Cordova's Voices", a group created to fight annexation.

The group is pushing for a referendum, allowing the more than 4,900 South Cordova residents to vote on whether they want to be part of Memphis or not.

"Folks, we are ready for a real tea party here in Cordova, I'm serious about this," said TN State Rep. Steve McManus, who represents South Cordova.

McManus says residents are especially upset that the city annexed them in July, but made residents pay back taxes dating back to the prior January.

The backlash led state lawmakers to pass a bill preventing cities from doing that. McManus said Thursday evening that the law is retroactive.

"I fully expect, that we in South Cordova will get our taxes back, plus interest," he said.
The group's efforts were dealt a blow on Thursday, when Mark Goins, Tennessee's Coordinator of Elections, ruled that only cities can initiate de-annexation.

"Upon review of the language, this provision requires the city to initiate the contraction and then obtain the approval of the voters. The provision says that any 'incorporated city or town…may contract its limits.' The city or town acts through its legislative body," Goins wrote.

"The only possible exception to the city legislative body initiating the process would be if the city charter allowed for citizen initiatives. However, according to the city attorney, the Memphis City Charter does not have such a provision," he added.

"I'm not worried about it," said Fox. "That's his opinion, and it boils down when it goes to court."

McManus said he's asked TN Attorney General Robert Cooper's office to issue an opinion on the law.

He said he hoped to have that by Wednesday when the Shelby County Election Commission is set to hear the group's petition to hold a de-annexation referendum.
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