NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Davidson County judge has ruled that a referendum working to repeal Nashville’s 34% property tax hike cannot move forward in a special December election.
After several months of deliberation, The Metro Nashville Election Commission voted to send the referendum question to the Chancery Court.
According to the judge, the referendum proposed is invalid under Tennessee law. The ruling reads in part, “Unbeknownst to the signers who were presented with the referendum Petition, it contains a Proposed Act that is defective in form, facially unconstitutional and under no set of circumstances could be valid.”
The judge went on to say there may be lawful ways to change the 34% Metro property tax increase, but this is not one of them.
The referendum had more than 27,000 signatures and proposed holding a special election on December 15 to allow voters to weigh in on the tax hike.
The Beacon Center of Tennessee sent the following statement to News 2:
“Today, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle denied an attempt to put the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act on the ballot, meaning that Nashville voters have no voice on the 34% property tax increase. While Beacon had no involvement in the petition, it is clearer than ever that taxpayers from every city and county across the state deserve a say when their property taxes are raised excessively.”
Mayor John Cooper also commented on this new development, calling the decision ‘great news’ for Nashville:
“Today’s decision is great news for our city. It reflects the widely held view that this referendum was just not legal enough to be up to a vote.
The Chancellor’s thoughtful ruling calls out a misguided effort. It clearly shows why it was the wrong choice for a stronger Nashville.
We are the lowest-taxed city in one of the lowest-taxed states, even after the property tax increase. We can have the lowest tax rate and fix our finances, pay teachers more, build schools, and invest in neighborhoods.
Thankfully, the city does not have to spend between $800,000 and $1 million on something that would later be overturned. Instead, we can focus on the work Metro Council and I were hired to do.”
Metro Director of Law Bob Cooper offered the following statement:
“The Chancellor properly concluded that 4 Good Government’s petition was fatally flawed and promised what it could not legally deliver. The Court’s decision prevents a special election that would have wasted voters’ time and taxpayers’ money.”
Americans for Prosperity Tennessee called the decision ‘disappointing,’ releasing this statement:
“This ruling is extremely disappointing for us, Nashville families, businesses and everyone holding on to hope that the government would listen to their outcry over the crushing 34% property tax hike. Metro has continually tried to silence and ignore 27,000 Nashvillians who signed this petition in support of putting some guardrails up on Nashville’s spending addiction that put the city in its current crisis. This property tax hike will do nothing to help our city’s finances; it will only fuel Metro’s reckless spending and taxing proposals.
We thank our volunteers for their work and dedication, but we aren’t done yet. We will have to come together as a city to address the root causes of our fiscal issues – corporate welfare and reckless spending – if we are ever to get Nashville’s priorities in order.
Refusal to let the people have a voice and a vote is a disservice to our city and democracy.”
The Davidson County Election Commission also released a statement, saying:
“We appreciate Chancellor Lyle’s thoughtful approach to all parties in hearing this case and her timely decision. The Commission said from the beginning that we needed to get this right, out of concern for the city and the taxpayers, particularly given the expense of a special election.
Now we have the necessary guidance we were seeking, we await word from Mr. Roberts and 4GoodGovernment, as to whether or not they plan to file an appeal. The Commission is grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding throughout this process.”