NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – After many hours and several budget proposals, the metro council passed a budget for FY21. A budget that included a 34% property tax for Davidson County.
“The first step is having a balanced budget, legitimately balanced budget, with enough cash reserves to get us through the next crisis,” Mayor John Cooper said.
Cooper said the city was facing a $330 million deficit and increasing taxes was the only way to solve it while being fair to everyone. The tax increase will go towards needs in education and police among other budget items.
But business owners like Will Newman see it as a kick in the gut after being closed for the last few months.
“It’s just as much financially defeating as it is mentally when you’re a small business owner going through something of historic proportions trying to find a way to survive find a way to make it day by day to know that your city just has zero, zero effort to support small businesses you know it’s just so disheartening and I suspect you’ll see a lot of people will just throw in the towel,” Newman said.
Proprietor Barrett Hobbs agrees, saying metro government should reevaluate its latest budget to include new developments that have not been paying their dues.
“It’s an unfair playing field the city has created. On the backs of the success the businesses that have been down there for 20 years, in the last 5 to 6 years the new people are getting a free ride,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs said those incentives for new developments are putting a further burden on downtown honkey tonk bars, that have already been struggling to make ends meet during COVID-19.
“You’re going to see businesses board up because they can’t pay their property taxes. And their revenues are cut in half already because of the coronavirus,” Hobbs said.
But Newman said it isn’t just affecting property owners, it will soon trickle down to renters and those working in Nashville.
“If you don’t think this isn’t going to be passed down to people who are renting, you are disconnected from reality,” Newman said.
Home owner Wendi Mahoney said the property tax increase is forcing her to consider moving out of Davidson County.
“I think people want to make this a vibrant city, and I don’t think this is the way you do it,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney wished council members cut more costs within this budget process, rather than increasing property taxes by such a steep amount.
“It’s open season. I think they could’ve looked at almost any area and cut dead weight,” Mahoney said.
Mayor Cooper said it was a leadership moment for Nashville to have a budget that met its goals, and emphasized that the city is still considered a low tax area for Tennessee.