NASHVILLE, TENN. (WKRN) — A heated debate lies ahead for the Metro Nashville Council as a final vote is expected for the city’s budget for the next fiscal year Tuesday evening. One part that could affect all Nashvillians is a proposed property tax increase.
A grassroots coalition, NoTax4Nash, says they will recall Mayor John Cooper and any council members who vote in favor of the 32% increase.
A spokesperson for the group, Michelle Foreman, says now is not the time for an increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the deadly tornado outbreak back in March, which devastated the city and small businesses.
“When a pandemic comes in and your job gets taken away, there is a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety and the longer that continues, the more desperate people feel,” Foreman said. “They really look to their leadership and people feel like the leadership has not only betrayed them, but in a lot of instances, sabotaged them.”
According to the group, a recent poll of Davidson County voters shows overwhelming opposition to the increase, by a margin of 2.5 to 1. At a time when the Mayor is keeping businesses closed and people out of work, there are other ways the budget crisis can be fixed.
Back in May, the coalition met with the Mayor to offer other ways to make cuts in the budget. The alternatives are laid out in an open letter on the group’s website. It includes a decrease in funding for MTA, MNPS, arts and nonprofits, and temporarily furlough city and county employees.
During a news conference in April, Mayor Cooper said the tax hike is needed so Nashville doesn’t have to furlough or lay-off staff.
“There’s a feeling of outright outrage and anger because it seems very clear that the Mayor is saying do what I say, and not as I do and his actions are causing these businesses to continue to stay closed and it’s poor leadership, it’s bad business and not a way to run local government,” Foreman said.
The council will also review budget proposals from other council members including Bob Mendes and Steve Glover.
If the property tax increase passes, NoTax4Nash will move forward with the recall petition.