Nashville Mayor David Briley’s highly criticized budget was adopted by default on Tuesday night after Metro Council failed to achieve a simple majority vote on a substitute budget by one vote.
The substitute budget proposed by District 28 Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher included a 16% property tax increase that would have given Metro teachers a 4% raise and added more police officers and firefighters.
The failed property tax increase would have added around $300 in taxes for every household worth $250,000. With Briley’s budget, teachers will still get a 3% cost of living increase without a property tax increase.
Some members argued it wasn’t worth the cost for such a small increase for teachers in comparison to the mayor’s budget.
“I really was disappointed when I heard this was going from 3% of the mayor budget to 4%,” said District 21 Councilman Ed Kindall. “I’ve got a granddaughter teaching at Metro Schools…not really going to help much. Still going to be in granddaddy’s pocket.”
Mayor Briley, who is up for re-election later this year, has made it clear he didn’t want any tax increases. However, some councilmembers went so far to accuse him of lying about it.
“In private conversations, a bunch of you guys know because you told me — you said the mayor has said to your face he’s going to raise taxes next year, and he denies it to the media,” At-Large Councilman Bob Mendes said. “He’s not telling the truth to somebody, and I’m not sure who it is.”
Ahead of Metro Council’s hours-long deliberation, protestors took to the streets of downtown to voice their demands.
The protestors, comprised of Metro teachers and WeGo transit riders, started from the Music City Central Station and ended at the Metro courthouse.
“We want a city that belongs to the people who live here,” said a local teacher.
The teachers that were present in the crowd hoped for a higher pay raise than the 3% that Mayor Briley has suggested.
Amanda Kail, a Metro English teacher, told News 2 that her coworkers are struggling to make ends meet the way things are now.
“Our salaries have been frozen for a long time and we just don’t see a future, and what we’re fighting for now is that future.”
“I would say about two-thirds of the teachers in my school building have second jobs. Some have a third,” she added.
Transit riders hoped that the final budget will include increased funding for WeGo transit services.
The activist group, Music City Riders United, had expressed fear that the budget proposed by Mayor Briley would leave some bus drivers without a job and fewer bus routes.
“People take transportation to get to school. my niece my daughter, they take public transportation to get to school. And if they can’t get to school, what are we doing here,” said Kutonia Smith, a MCRU member.