City, County Seek Agent to Oversee Pre-K Funds

February 5, 2019 10:02 AM

The Memphis City Council is considering an ordinance that would appoint a fiscal agent to manage the city and county pre-Kindergarten fund.




The ordinance is a joint ordinance of both the council and the Shelby County Commission. It does three things, Doug McGowen, the city’s chief operating officer told a council committee Tuesday.




“First of all, it says that the city and county are in it together moving forward,” McGowen said. “The second thing is it establishes that we will use a joint fiscal agent, and thirdly it allows city and county officials to serve on that board.”




The fiscal agent, who would serve for three years, would be tasked with establishing a quality pre-k program, as well as managing and distributing pre-K funds.




The dollar amount needed to fund the county-wide universal-needs pre-K is $16 million, McGowen said.




Previously, the city received $8 million of federal assistance to fund 1,000 pre-K seats in the county, but McGowen said that money will run out this summer.




The city and county now want to fund 2,000 seats beginning in the 2019-20 school year.




To do that, McGowen said last year the city put $3 million of excess city revenue as seed money into a dedicated pre-K fund. Additionally, a portion of city property tax revenue and taxes paid by companies whose PILOT (pay-in-lieu-of-taxes) incentive has expired goes to the fund.




The county commission approved the ordinance to appoint a fiscal agent on the first of three readings last week. The council is set to vote on the first of three readings in two weeks. If approved by both bodies, the county commission will issue a request for qualifications to choose a fiscal agent, who Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris would ultimately select. Continue Reading


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