NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Signature after signature was signed Sunday in a protest calling to recall Nashville Mayor John Cooper and councilmembers after a recent property tax hike.
“People feel extremely betrayed by the Mayor right now because he campaigned on fiscal responsibility and so they feel like this was just kind of a gut punch really,” said Diane Canada, an organizer with No Tax 4 Nash who’s been petitioning for weeks.
“Metro’s finances are in a place where there is no option,” Mayor Cooper said in his State of the Metro Address on March 31, “We can’t print money or borrow to cover our operating expenses. We must raise property taxes, as difficult as that is right now.”
The tax increase moves the rate from about $3.15 to $4.20 per $100 dollars of assessed value in the city’s urban areas.
While it’s still one of the lowest rates in the state, residents and businesses say it’s not the right way to do it.
“How would you like to have your business closed down and no income coming in and then the government saying you’re gonna have [a] 34 percent increase in taxes. Is that fair?” asked Nashville resident Bill Thetford.
“This tax is being proposed because of the lost revenue from the COVID shutdown right? And, that’s not how you’re going to rebuild by taking more money from the people,” added Resident John Vogel.
Canada also works with minority and women business owners in Nashville and says they could be seeing around a 40 percent increase in taxes.
She, along with many others at the protest Sunday, said there were other areas the Mayor and council could have pulled revenue from instead of increasing funds for city employees, police, and public schools.
“We could’ve furloughed city employees, even one day a week in rotation, because they’re not working, you know the city’s shut down, everyone else is feeling the impact so why shouldn’t some of that be spread amongst some of the city workers,” Canada explained, “We could’ve borrowed from the Music City Center Reserve Fund, we could’ve spread this out amongst other types of taxes, there were so many other options but this was inexcusable.”
The group needs 68,000 signatures to ultimately prompt a new mayoral election. They will be counting and turning the signatures over to the election commission Monday.
Canada said she thinks they will have enough, but if they don’t, they will just do it again.