“Cash is king.” That economic saying is something Metro Nashville may be learning as the finance director warns the city cannot keep spending money as if it is minting it.
Metro Finance Director Talia Lomax-O’dneal has warned department heads that they cannot request new spending measures in the 2018-2019 budget, The Tennessean reports. The city’s current $2.2 billion operating budget was a $122 million, a 5.9 percent increase over the previous year. The 2016-17 operating budget was a $121 million, a 6.1 percent increase over the previous year.
Mayor Megan Barry’s current budget took Metro Nashville over the $2 billion mark for the first time.
“Prudent financial management requires a periodic look for efficiencies and savings opportunities, and there are several fiscal challenges for the 2018 fiscal year,” Lomax-O’dneal said in her letter to department heads.
Those “challenges” include tax collections that have returned to normal levels, dwindling reserve balances and increased debt payment obligations.
Lomax-O’dneal’s letter failed to mention two issues, one a current budget “challenge,” and the other a potential “challenge.” The former is the $17.1 million lifeline the Metro Council voted last month to give Nashville General Hospital. The latter is the proposed $9 billion light rail transit plan (although if one asked the city, they might say the cost would be $5.2 billion).
NoTax4Tracks, a PAC that questions the transit plan’s feasibility, had this to say in a newsletter: “We put on our decoder ring and came up with this. Metro is saying: ‘Our projections were off. We’re spending more than we’re taking in. Our debt has gone up. It’s time to tighten our belts.’
“Sound like a good time to go for a $9-billion light rail plan with the largest sales tax in the country? Nope,” the PAC says.
NoTax4Tracks also points out that nearly every large transit plan in the United States either went or is going over budget.
Projected Cost: $90 million
Final Cost: $148 million
2014 Operating Deficit: $12.6 million
Projected Cost: $2.4 billion
Current Estimate: $2.9 billion
The News Tribune
Projected Cost: $5.2 billion
Current Estimate: $10- $13 billion
- PUERTO RICO
Projected Cost: $1.25 billion
Current Estimate: $2.25 billion
Projected Cost: $2.6 billion
Cost with Interest: $24 billion
- FORT LAUDERDALE
Projected Cost: $142 million
Current Estimate: $195.3 million