Memo calls for Metro hiring freeze, spending cuts while property tax increase hangs in the balance

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A memo sent out by Metro’s financial director asked department heads and elected officials to look for ways to reduce spending while the status of Nashville’s planned property tax increase remains unclear.

District 2 Councilwoman Kyonzte Tooms shared the memo on Twitter Thursday.

The Davidson County Election Commission is expected to vote this week on whether Nashville’s already-approved 34% property tax increase can proceed to a special ballot in December. The push to roll back the tax increase received more than 20,000 signatures, well over the 11,200 signatures needed to ask for a special election.

The ballot would ask Nashville voters to reverse the latest 34% property tax increase and limit property tax increase rates to 2% each year. County officials are now working on various budget scenarios, in case they don’t get the tax revenue originally anticipated.

The memo was sent out Thursday by Director of Finance Kevin Crumbo, Human Resources Director Shannon Hall, and Kristin Wilson, Chief of Operations and Performance. They warn this reversal would throw Metro’s budget out of balance. They said the city’s cash flow could be disrupted by delayed tax payments, pending the possible election. The memo also said financial rating agencies could downgrade Metro’s outstanding bonds and financial outlook, which could increase the city’s borrowing costs.

To prepare, the memo calls for a freeze on hiring and promotions and asks departments to look for ways to reduce spending. The hiring freeze will not apply to front-line public safety and other essential services. Metro will also review all discretionary contracts for deferral or suspension during this time. No out-of-town travel will be authorized for Metro employees unless it’s necessary for public safety. This including conferences and meetings.

Metro also proposes preserving the county’s unallocated CARES Act funding to ensure available funds for pandemic-related costs, such as PPE.

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