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Mayor says amendment to repeal property tax hike would cause first responder layoffs

15th Sep 2020 | Accounting

by Caitlyn Shelton

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper says a proposed charter amendment aiming to repeal Metro 34% property tax hike would cause layoffs to first responders, even calling it a "self-inflicted disaster for Nashville"

The proposed amendment wants to cap all future property tax hikes to 2%, require county-wide voter referendums for any increase over 2%, and repeal the current 34% property tax increase, also reducing it to 2% per year. If the amendment is passed, it would retroactively reverse the property tax increase midway through the fiscal year that was approved by 32 of 40 Metro Council Members.

Cooper says the amendment would create a $332 million deficit, eliminate city services, suspend capital projects and reduce property values. He also insists the city would see dramatic cuts to essential services like emergency response, schools, trash collection and road repair.

“This would cripple our city and gut essential city services. After two natural disasters this year, we don’t need a self-inflicted one. This would severely weaken Nashville at a time when we need to build Nashville stronger," Mayor Cooper commented.

According to the mayor's office, the potential 35% cut across Metro operations could impact the following:

Public Works: Trash collection service reduced to twice monthly, with complete elimination of recycling collections.

Fire: 35% cuts to the NFD Operating Budget, resulting in cuts of approximately 557 positions, including 12 ambulances, 31 fire companies, and 17 fire inspectors.

Police: Reductions in force of one-third of MNPD officers (450-480 officers) through layoffs and a hiring freeze and the closure of half of MNPD precincts.

Other departments: Partial to complete closure of parks, recreation centers and libraries; delays for permits, licenses and inspections; service reductions for Hospital Authority, Metro Transit Authority, and Sports Authority.

Metro Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle also speaking out in opposition of the amendment, saying it would render schools "unrecognizable."

“Cutting 25% of the MNPS budget would, unfortunately, render the school district unrecognizable to students and families," Dr. Battle said. "We owe our students an exemplary education, and it takes resources to hire the teachers and staff needed to serve students academically and socially emotionally.”

Dr. Battle says if there ends up being a spending reduction, budget cuts to every single school in the district would be required. According to Dr. Battle, MNPS would likely be compelled to reduce education resources in the following ways:

Increased class sizes and longer bus ride times
Reductions in social work, counseling, community connections and other family services
Decrease in supplemental services for students like robotics, career connections, college preparation and advanced academics
Elimination of Social and Emotional learning initiatives
Cut in technical assistance and professional development for teachers
Elimination of stipends for extra duties like coaching and other extracurricular activities
The 34% property tax increase has faced major backlash from Nashville residents. It's a heated debate that prompted thousands of people to sign a petition calling for a recall election against Mayor Cooper and all 32 council members who voted for the tax hike.

East Nashville Sam McCullough told FOX 17 News reporter Dennis Ferrier the tax hike is in one word: sickening.

“I just hope and pray that we get somewhere where this can be reevaluated because the people of this city cannot afford it,” McCullough said. “The Council, they should have thought more than to just throw this one on people. This is like being slapped in the face and you didn’t know the person was standing next to you with their hand out. It's insane to think this is how Nashville runs."

Read the full article at: https://fox17.com/news/local/nashville-mayor-john-cooper-says-charter-amendment-to-repeal-34-percent-property-tax-hike-would-cause-first-responder-layoffs-tennessee-self-inflicted-disaster