Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Justin Wilson warned Metro Nashville City Council members Wednesday that if Nashville doesn’t balance its budget by February, the state will intervene.
“None of us want to see that happen,” Wilson said. “ You don’t want someone from the state capital to come and tell you how to run your city. And I guarantee you I really, really don’t want to do that.”
During Wilson’s presentation to council members, he presented the dire financial situation the city faces. As it currently stands, Metro Nashville’s budget at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2020 projects to have only 21 days of cash on hand. Furthermore, the city’s general purpose school fund projects to not have enough cash to last a day, according to Wilson’s presentation.
“During our view of Metro’s current budget. We saw things that gave us to say the very least gave us pause,” he said.
When the 2019-2020 fiscal year ends, Nashville will have only a little more than $3 million on hand. However, the next day when the new fiscal year starts July 1, the city owes over $251 million in debt payments. Tennessee’s biggest city projects to receive in almost $71 million from all tax funds, but it will still need to borrow more money to pay off the debt.
Wilson told the council that it was up to them to make the “tough, but necessary decisions” to keep Nashville on track.
“You really should be selling your furniture to make your house payments,” he said.
Wilson offered five ways for Nashville to balance a budget: raise revenue, cut spending, borrow, use reserves or accounting methods. He noted that the city doesn’t have the ability to borrow any money, use its reserves or try accounting methods.
“Solving these problems is your responsibility. It’s your job to pass a structurally balanced budget,” Wilson said.
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