NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Fireworks continued outside Metro Council on Wednesday.
Joining the budget fray discussion is Music City Riders United. The group is protesting what they estimate is an $8.7 million proposed cut in next year’s MTA budget.
“That’s a lot of money,” said Kutonia Smith with the group. “I don’t see any way transportation can even survive by them cutting that.”
The protests are mounting surrounding this year’s budget.
An estimated 1,000 teachers are expected to call out from school on Thursday as part of yet another ‘sick-out’.
“We’re not sick of the kids,” explained Hannah Brown, a teacher at Cole Elementary. “We’re not sick of teaching for the most part. We’re just sick of not being valued.”
These are just two of the Metro programs upset by budget proposals.
Some council members believe the problem started in part, two years ago, with a property tax increase that never came.
“Right now, we’re at an all-time historic low property tax rate,” explained Council Member Bob Mendes. “I guess the rule about you get what you pay for is true.”
Mendes says property taxes usually increase every four years, but that deadline came and went in 2017.
At the time, much of the discussion in Nashville focused on a transit referendum that ultimately failed.
“When you’re gonna try the transit referendum. that was gonna be new taxes,” said Mendes. “There was a certain ring to having lowest tax rates ever.”
Months later, in stepped Mayor Briley.
“Mayor Briley had been on the job for only a couple weeks,” said Mendes. “He didn’t feel like he’d gotten around the county enough to talk about it. This year, I don’t think there’s really an excuse for it.”
Mendes estimates the tax would have brought in an estimated $150 million.
But during his tenure, Mayor Briley has instead called on Metro offices to make do with what’s available.
“I said from this very spot, that sacrifice would lead to success,” Briley explained, during his State of Metro address last month. “We had to get Metro’s budget under control, we had to live within our means. And Metro departments did that.”