Tennessee Counties Have a Spending Addiction, Beacon Center President Warns


At least four local governments in Tennessee have proposed massive property tax increases totaling more than $200 million a year, according to a new column from the Beacon Center of Tennessee.

Beacon is a Nashville-based free market think tank.

Beacon President Justin Owen said in a column on the organization’s website that many local governments pass new budgets this time of year.

Owen also referenced how Metro Nashville Council members just defeated a $154 million property tax increase — by a single vote. Hamilton County officials, meanwhile, are pushing for $34 million in new property taxes.

“In Murfreesboro, the city has voted on a 34-cent tax increase, while Rutherford County officials are piling on with a 9.5 percent tax hike proposal on top of that,” Owen wrote.

“Could it be that all these local governments are starving for revenue? Uniformly, these cities and counties don’t have a revenue problem, they have a spending addiction.”

Owen said “Nashville has shelled out corporate welfare like no other city could imagine,” citing, among other things, $14 million for Opryland’s new water park.

Hamilton County commissioners, meanwhile, operate what Owen called “their own slush fund, doling out nearly $1 million annually to their political pet projects.”

As The Tennessee Star reported this month, many people in Hamilton County believe UnifiEd members orchestrated a proposal to add 350 new positions to the county school system, at a cost of $34 million, and at taxpayer expense. As reported, many of those proposed positions are for social workers and new administrators.

County Commissioner Tim Boyd told The Tennessee Star UnifiEd has a political agenda to turn Hamilton County from bright red politically to dark blue.

Meanwhile, Owen said Murfreesboro spends $700,000 on a local TV channel in three foreign languages.

“If our state can learn to prioritize and live within its means, so too can local governments throughout it. Tennesseans across the state should rise up and demand that their local governments stop squandering their hard-earned money on pork, then coming hat in hand to fix potholes, fund education, and pay first responders,” Owen said.

“As long as examples like those above exist, there is no excuse to raise taxes on the backs of middle-class homeowners.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Justin Owen” by Beacon Center. 





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4 Thoughts to “Tennessee Counties Have a Spending Addiction, Beacon Center President Warns”

  1. 83ragtop50

    I did not see Sumner County mentioned but the County Commission is just as bad as the ones listed,. The taxpayers are rallying against the runaway spending and very real threat of ridiculous tax increases but that did not stop a huge property tax increase 5 years ago. The County Executive (mayor) and school board continue to find ways to spend money on unneeded and unwanted things. God help us all.

  2. B. Jennings

    Another thought…could all of these tax-raising initiatives be a back door into a state income tax? People get so fed up with the constant drumbeat that they throw up their hands and surrender?

  3. Steve Allen

    Look at which political party controls these cities and counties. Liberals/Democrats love spending other peoples money, and have an insatiable desire for more government control which requires more and more money.

  4. Rick

    Great article!