NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As director of policy and research for The Beacon Center, a nonprofit free-market think tank based in Nashville, Ron Shultis spent the past year reviewing numbers. And, for him, they don’t add up.
“What makes it so frustrating for people living here, this city is experiencing the greatest economic boom the city has ever had and we still can’t pay the bills. What we saw a lot of this year is the council is charged with taxing and coming up with the money but then doesn’t have a lot of oversight with it. This is one of the structural problems that we see with this city’s finances.”
The findings are published in the annual pork report as a way to inform the public and pressure government to cut the fat.
It cites 6.5 million in tax dollars allotted to the Tennessee Arts Commission to increase participation. There’s a hefty contract for a student assessment platform which Shultis claims garnered no results.
“This was a testing system, that by the way, the school board admitted they purchased and used illegally. But, they spent a million dollars, and there’s no way to track how it’s been used.”
As Davidson County faces a $42-million-dollar shortfall, Shultis says the answer is pretty clear. “The number one thing we want our government to be focusing on are things like roads, schools, police, fire. But what often happens is money gets spent on shiny things, like the NFL Draft.”
Nashville played host to the highest-rated draft in league history. More than 600,000 fans attended the three-day event in April 2019.
Butch Spyridon, President, and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation, was instrumental in making that happen.
“I read where critics say the NFL got $3 million and that was pork, that was waste. I take exception to that,” said Spyridon.
He went on to say local taxpayers, and the general fund, weren’t burdened financially. Of the $3 million, $2.2 million was raised by the private sector. The remaining $800,00 came from hotel dollars.
Spyridon added, visitors spent $132 million during those three days. “So, would I spend $3 million to make $132 million? Hell yeah, I would.”
It’s an approach, he claimed, kept the city running, “You need the revenue streams or you don’t have anything to prioritize. So turning off the spigot is not smart.”
But, spending that revenue wisely is one thing everyone can agree on.
News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. Click here for more Nashville 2020 reports.