One day Nashville gives away a certain sum of economic incentives to major corporations to get them to come to the city.
The next day, as part of one proposal Metro Council members will soon consider, the city would then have to hand out an equal sum of money for more affordable housing units.
Nashville Metro Council members Fabian Bedne and Colby Sledge are reportedly pushing the idea.
But their fellow council member Steve Glover said the city is broke and taking even more money out of the city’s operations budget is “a double-edged sword, no matter how you slice and dice it.”
“We are to the point where I don’t think we can afford many more incentives,” Glover told The Tennessee Star.
“Frankly all we have done is give away incentives and not had anything in return to be prepared for all those incentives.”
Mark Cunningham, spokesman for the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free market think tank, said city officials have identified the right problem — but they have the wrong solution.
“The whole idea of these incentives is to make your economy better. A lot of times you can make it more affordable for people to live and shop, but this does not accomplish any of the things you are looking for,” Cunningham told The Star.
“(With this proposal) you make it more expensive to live here. It makes the cost of living higher because the people who are poor have to pay (for) this through our sales taxes and our property taxes. We are bankrupt as a city. There is no way to get around this.”
As The Tennessean reported, Bedne and Sledge proposed their legislation as Metro Council members consider a $15 million incentive package for Amazon to locate a hub downtown.
“The ordinance would require Metro government provide a contribution “of an equivalent amount” to the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing upon the annual appropriation of an economic and community development grant to a company,” the paper reported.