Mayor opens budget hearings with no tax increase pledge - WKRN News 2

Mayor opens budget hearings with no tax increase pledge

Posted: Updated: March 26, 2013 06:01 PM

Unlike last year when Nashvillians saw their property taxes go up an average of several hundred dollars a year, Mayor Karl Dean made special note there will be no such increase as he opened the first day of his budget hearings for all Metro departments.

"Let me be clear from the outset to take whatever suspense there may be in it," said the Mayor in his initial remarks. "We will not be asking for additional revenue to cover budget needs. We will not be proposing any additional property tax increase."

The past fiscal year the Metro Council approved a property tax rate increase of 53 cents to raise about $100 million dollars in additional revenue for what became a $1.7 billion dollar budget.

The additional revenue went to things like salary increases for Metro workers, 100 more teachers and school building repairs.

This year the mayor asked each department head to consider a scenario with 2 percent cuts, but that kind of decrease is far from certain as the budget process is just beginning.

First up was police, which is one of the largest Metro departments outside of public education with nearly 1400 sworn officers and 1900 full-time employees.

"We are asking for a net increase of $4 million dollars," said police Chief Steve Anderson.

He said the largest portion of this will be nearly $1.2 million for staff and equipment for the department's first-ever DNA crime laboratory.

The Mayor also heard from other public safety departments like the Nashville Fire Department, the Office of Emergency Management and the Davidson County Sheriff's office.

Emergency Communications Center director Duane Phillips said he hopes the budget will include 15 more dispatchers.

Acting fire Chief Billy Lynch told Nashville's News 2 the cross-training of new firefighters for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) skills allows for expanding service while not asking for additional resources.

Departments such as the Fair Board, Municipal Auditorium and the Farmers Market are scheduled for budget hearings Tuesday afternoon.

The Mayor said his eventual budget will be presented to the Metro Council on April 30.

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