MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Residents of South Cordova are protesting annexation to the city of Memphis and the rising taxes that go along with it.
The crowd at the Agricenter on Tuesday, September18, was large, probably more than 1,000, but it was not angry or rowdy. Audience members were concerned over the way they were initially annexed and concerned over their rising taxes.
“We just feel the way it was addressed was not the way it was presented,” said South Cordova property owner Bailey Kuesport, “and to be charged for the entire year, we don’t feel it was fair.”
A sign in Bailey’s yard said it all: 'Protest Unfair Taxes'.
So, Bailey and hundreds of others met at the Agricenter to do just that.
“They’ll get my tax dollars when they pull it from my cold dead hands,” Allen French told abc24.com.
French was only half-joking.
South Cordova residents feel that they should not be paying any taxes for 2012.
“We were not in the city,” said Joe O’Shields, “We were county people on January 1st.”
O’Shields is the president of the Walnut Grove Forest Hills Homeowners Association, and is helping lead the fight against annexation and higher taxes.
“To pay for the whole year when we were annexed in July, does not seem right,” French said.
One action taken at the September 18 meeting was the distribution of letters to be sent with tax payments, which are due by the end of October 2012.
“That means we’re going to pay our taxes just like we’re supposed to,” said O’Shields, “but we want the city to know we protest paying them. We don’t feel like we should and we object. The letters are our way of letting them know we protest the taxes.”
Despite Mayor A C Wharton’s assurances he’ll find some relief for the newly annexed area, they are dubious.
“That was the understanding,” said Kuesport, “but the tax bill says differently.”
“Let me say this,” added O’Shields, “the tax statement says 2012 taxes.”
And with taxes in the newly annexed area increasing $1000 to $3000 on average, that’s a big bite.
“That is a big bite,” said French, “for a poor boy like me.”
Allen French’s taxes are going up $1700.
State Representative Steve McManus, who lives in Cordova, spoke at the meeting. He said he received a letter from the city claiming the annexation clock actually started running July 30, 2011.
If that is true, according to McManus many more questions will be raised- federal issues. For instance, according to McManus, nobody in South Cordova ever got to vote for members of the Memphis City Council.
Leaders of the anti-taxation/annexation fight are predicting a long battle.