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Nashville Metro Council Rubber-Stamps Mayor Barry’s $9 Billion Transit Plan for Referendum

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Under a tight deadline, the Nashville Metro Council approved – by an overwhelming margin of 29-to-1 – a proposal to add Mayor Megan Barry’s ambitions $9 billion mass transit plan to the Davidson County ballot May 1 as a referendum.

The sole ‘no’ vote was cast by Councilmember Angie Henderson (District 34). However, during her vote, she made clear her objection was not due to her disapproval of the Mayor’s plan, but rather she felt the mass transit proposal had issues within the details that should be addressed first:

“I want to state that I do support this being on the ballot for referendum for decision by our constituents. But I think from a committee standpoint, at this juncture, related to my concerns about the plan – seeing that my vote does not necessarily keep this from advancing – I am a ‘No’ vote today. That does not mean I am a no vote end.”

Watch the entire council meeting:

In all, the Mayor is asking voters to raise four separate taxes – including the sales tax – to pay for the plan, made possible by the notorious gas tax hike known as the IMPROVE Act Tax Cut Act of 2017.

“The transit improvements and expansion will be funded by tax surcharges that will end once all debt issued for the program has been paid and the Metropolitan Council determines upon the adoption of a resolution that the revenues from the surcharges are no longer needed for operation of the program,” the Metro Nashville Council explained in a detailed statement:

The surcharges will consist of: (1) a sales tax surcharge of 0.5% for the first five years, increasing to 1% in 2023; (2) a hotel/motel tax surcharge of 0.25% for the first five years, increasing to 0.375% in 2023; (3) a 20% surcharge on the business/excise tax; and (4) a 20% surcharge on the rental car tax. The capital cost of the program is estimated to have a present day value of $5,354,000,000, with recurring operations and maintenance costs having a present day value at the year the improvements are completed of approximately $99,500,000.

“Our transit improvement program will allow Nashville to manage our inevitable growth in a more sustainable way that ensures the great new jobs, amenities, and new residents resulting from this growth will not detract from the quality of life of Nashvillians now and into the future,” Mayor Barry said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited that a majority of Councilmembers have signed on as co-sponsors to the ordinance that will allow voters to determine their transportation future.”

Vice Mayor Briley added, “This referendum would be the most significant policy decision put to the voters of Davidson County since the formation of the Metropolitan Government was approved in 1962. Given the significance of this moment, we need to do everything we can to ensure a fair, open, and deliberative process in deciding whether to place this referendum on the ballot.”

Briley also proposed a series of meetings to allow Councilmembers to discuss the referendum ordinance and hear from members of the public about the plan:

December 19, 2017 – First Reading
January 9, 2018 – Public Hearing
January 11, 2018 – Committee consideration with a committee of the whole composed of all Councilmembers
January 16, 2018 – Second Reading
February 6, 2018 – Third Reading

 


Read the Metro Nashville Council’s statement:

Two Dozen Metro Councilmembers to Co-sponsor Ordinance Authorizing Transit Referendum

December 11, 2017

Mayor Megan Barry was joined by Vice Mayor David Briley and members of the Metro Council to announce the introduction of an ordinance that would authorize a May 1 transit referendum in Davidson County.

“Our transit improvement program will allow Nashville to manage our inevitable growth in a more sustainable way that ensures the great new jobs, amenities, and new residents resulting from this growth will not detract from the quality of life of Nashvillians now and into the future,” said Mayor Barry. “I couldn’t be more excited that a majority of Councilmembers have signed on as co-sponsors to the ordinance that will allow voters to determine their transportation future.”

In filing the ordinance, 24 members of the Metro Council have agreed to sign on as co-sponsors of the legislation so far. Co-sponsors of the ordinance as of Monday, December 11, 2017 include: Councilmembers At-large Erica Gilmore, Sharon Hurt, Jim Shulman, and District Councilmembers Brett Withers, Anthony Davis, Nancy VanReece, Bill Pridemore, Doug Pardue, Larry Hagar, Kevin Rhoten, Jeff Syracuse, Mike Freeman, Colby Sledge, Burkley Allen, Freddie O’Connell, Sheri Weiner, Kathleen Murphy, Russ Pulley, Jeremy Elrod, Tanaka Vercher, Karen Y. Johnson, Jason Potts, Fabian Bedne, Antoinette Lee.

“This referendum would be the most significant policy decision put to the voters of Davidson County since the formation of the Metropolitan Government was approved in 1962,” said Vice Mayor Briley. “Given the significance of this moment, we need to do everything we can to ensure a fair, open, and deliberative process in deciding whether to place this referendum on the ballot.”

Vice Mayor Briley has proposed a series of meetings to allow Councilmembers to discuss the referendum ordinance and hear from members of the public about the proposal.

December 19, 2017 – First Reading
January 9, 2018 – Public Hearing
January 11, 2018 – Committee consideration with a committee of the whole composed of all Councilmembers
January 16, 2018 – Second Reading
February 6, 2018 – Third Reading

Councilmember Jeremy Elrod, Chairman of the Metro Council Public Works Committee, will serve as lead sponsor of the ordinance – guiding the bill through the legislative process. “I’m pleased to be joined by so many of my Metro Council colleagues who have signed on to promote and invest in transportation independence in Nashville. I look forward to a robust and lively discussion over the coming weeks, and I hope that conversation will end with the voters of Davidson County having the opportunity to vote FOR a transit program that will create transportation independence in our city.”

Included in the ordinance authorizing the referendum will be ballot language. Under the provisions of the IMPROVE Act, which authorizes a local transit referendum, the ballot language must be 250 words or less and include information about the proposed transit improvement program. The language proposed by Mayor Barry’s administration is as follows:

“Passage of this measure will allow the Metropolitan Government to improve and expand its transit services to include: expanded bus service countywide; new transit lines; new light rail and/or rapid bus service along Nashville’s major corridors, including the Northwest Corridor and a connection through downtown Nashville; new neighborhood transit centers; improvements to the Music City Star train service; safety improvements, including sidewalks and pedestrian connections; and system modernization. The Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Metropolitan Department of Public Works will undertake the projects and implement the program. The transit improvements and expansion will be funded by tax surcharges that will end once all debt issued for the program has been paid and the Metropolitan Council determines upon the adoption of a resolution that the revenues from the surcharges are no longer needed for operation of the program. The surcharges will consist of: (1) a sales tax surcharge of 0.5% for the first five years, increasing to 1% in 2023; (2) a hotel/motel tax surcharge of 0.25% for the first five years, increasing to 0.375% in 2023; (3) a 20% surcharge on the business/excise tax; and (4) a 20% surcharge on the rental car tax. The capital cost of the program is estimated to have a present day value of $5,354,000,000, with recurring operations and maintenance costs having a present day value at the year the improvements are completed of approximately $99,500,000.”

Detailed transit improvement program documents will be filed along with the ordinance on Tuesday, December 12th. Prior to final consideration by the Metro Council, an independent CPA firm approved by the State Comptroller will provide an assessment as to the financial assumptions made in the capital and operating costs, as well as funding mechanisms for the plan.

 

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3 thoughts on “Nashville Metro Council Rubber-Stamps Mayor Barry’s $9 Billion Transit Plan for Referendum

  1. Jamse Sheffield

    Barry and her buddy’s are getting rich off the tax payers of Nashville I have lived in or around Nashville for 73 years and worked construction I know how it works. Richard Fulton built a stadium downtown when he was mayor and how many does Nashville have now ? Nashville is going to be just like the rest of the liberal run cities like Detroit. Sad was a great place to live at one time. Would like to see Nashville run by people with common sense but not likely.

  2. 83ragtop50

    This is not really news. The Nashville City Council is composed of big government liberals. Some of whom do not appear to have enough common sense to get in out of the rain.

  3. Ron stone

    In her proposed 250 word summation I didn’t see anything about a tunnel or the guestimate of the real cost that is over 9 Billion, not 5 billion. Since this is such a massive benefit to all of the middle TN area why not at least tell the truth? Intentional omissions are no less than a lie.

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