Shelby County Commission OKs tax referendum

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The Shelby County Commission has approved a sales tax increase referendum, overriding county Mayor Mark Luttrell's veto.

The decision Monday puts a proposal to raise the local sales tax by a half-cent on the November ballot. Officials say the increase would raise $60 million.

Commissioner Mark Ritz sponsored the measure, saying the commission had to ensure enough funding for the upcoming merger of the Memphis and county schools. The Commercial Appeal ( ) reports that the merged system has a projected budget deficit of roughly $7 million.

Luttrell has called the referendum premature.

If voters approve the county increase, it will diminish revenue reaped by five Memphis suburbs that this month approved half-cent city sales tax increases to fund creation of separate municipal school systems.

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