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Money city owes defunct MCS is growing fast, exceeding $80M

(WMC-TV) - The money the City of Memphis now owes to the defunct Memphis City Schools system is rising fast. Taxpayers will pay for it regardless of how the situation unfolds.

A letter that arrived to Memphis City Council Attorney Allan Wade's law office Thursday says interest is ballooning on the $57.5 million judgment the city schools won against the City of Memphis in 2009. And taxpayers, the damage now exceeds $80 million.

Also in the letter, Attorney Ricky Wilkins said, "My client (Memphis City Schools) is questioning the city's sincere, good-faith intent to reach an amicable resolution of this matter without additional expenses."

"We don't need to stay in court. The only people making money on this are the attorneys," said Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery.

Councilman Myron Lowery says the impasse arose from the city's $160 million counter-claim.

"We actually loaned the school board money for bond issues to build new schools and that money was never repaid," he added.

The letter goes on to say "The city continues to accumulate post-judgment interest..."

The original $57.5 million owed to the school system will accrue interest to $82.3 million on January 1. If it remains unpaid through June 30, the number will jump to $84.4 million.

In June 2009, the city council cut the money from the city school budget because Memphis property owners are double-taxed by both the city and county.

"The individuals who cannot continue to pay the tax, who will speak for them?" wondered Memphis City Councilman Harold Collins.

The school system sued and won.

In 2010, the City of Memphis learned they would have to pay the money owed because the Tennessee Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal.

"If we can't settle it, it's my hope the judge would rule on this as soon as possible. This has gone on for much too long," said Lowery.

A judge will have to sort out the claim and counter-claim.

Wilkins and Wade were unavailable for comment.

The case is still open.

As you know, Memphis City Schools merged with Shelby County Schools.

So that opens another can of worms.

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