Metro Council Member Steve Glover Talks Nashville’s Fiscal Fact Versus Fiction and the Need to Curb Unnecessary Spending

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Live from music row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – host Leahy and all-star panelist Crom Carmichael welcomed in-studio guest Metro Councilman Steve Glover to the show.

At the top of the third hour, Glover expressed urgency to curb costs and expenditures in Nashville. He explained how the cycle of business has been that of increased revenues that are mishandled instead of being used on necessary infrastructure repair. Glover was concerned that the money continues to be spent in irrelevant areas creating a budget issue in a booming city.

Leahy: In the studio with us the original all-star panelist, Crom Carmichael. Good morning, Crom.

Carmichael: Michael.

Leahy: And, Metro council member Steve Glover.

Carmichael: Thank you, sir.

Leahy: Well, a big week ahead for Nashville Metro council. Budget battles.

Glover: I think it starts. I think we’re going to have a good conversation. Prior to that though, let me say, Frank and Barbara very good friends of mine.

Leahy: Frank and Barbara?

Glover: Today is their anniversary.

Leahy: Frank and Barbara 57th anniversary.

Carmichael: Wuthier? Frank and Barbara Wuthier?

Leahy: Frank and Barbara. Happy anniversary. 57 years. And they listen every morning?

Glover: I’m not certain they listen every morning but I did want to say happy anniversary to them.

Carmichael: Well good.

Glover: So yes, we are going to barrel down the road into the budget process. It’s sort of like the coronavirus. And I don’t want to make light of this. But you hear a lot of different layers of what’s correct and what may not be correct. And, depending upon what side you are listening to can kind of create problems.

Leahy: So we’re looking here at what you’re talking about is the Nashville budget. Fact versus fiction versus misstatement.

Glover: Right.

Leahy: So lay out the battle lines here that are going on. The metro council meeting is Thursday? Not Tuesday.

Glover: Yes. Not Tuesday. Because tomorrow’s election day.

Leahy: And by the way, we’re going to be broadcasting live from Jason Aldean’s Kitchen. Crom will be there. That will be a lot of fun. So the budget battle.

Glover: So anyway here’s the bottom line. If we are going to talk about the budget and money lets make sure we get all the facts in line. Two plus two always equals four.

Leahy: Whoah whoah whoah, I’m not sure about that. Have you been watching Common Core math?

Glover: Yes. Anyway, short and long of it, is that we need to make sure we need to stay focused on where the numbers actually are. What we when I say we, I’m talking about the city as far as how do we trim costs.

What do we cut back on? In other words, can we have the most expensive ice cream? Can we have the most expensive vacation? Can we do this? Can we do that? It doesn’t mean we can’t have a vacation and some ice cream. It just means that we can’t buy the top of the top.

Which is what we’ve been doing. And I know right now there’s a lot of things going on with regards to the downtown core and areas that are hopefully available for us to look into the revenues that are being generated.

Leahy: So, if I can translate this, Crom it sounds to me what Steve is arguing is that it’s time for Nashville Metro council to go on a diet.

Carmichael: Well, it also sounds like you have to make choices. In other words, the left and we don’t have a bunch of in Nashville, crazy leftists but we do have leftists in government. And leftists prefer to spend money rather than figure out how to save money.

They just prefer to spend money and then they expect other people to then pay for it. And I thank Steve for doing what he does. I’m sure he puts up with a tremendous amount of abuse from people who live their lives one way.

And then they want the government of Nashville to live in a different way. And they want people who are not involved in the decision making to be the ones that have to pick up the tab.

Leahy: Steve, just to follow up on Crom’s point, it does seem to me that anytime you have a conversation with somebody from the left and there is a problem their go-to position is, let’s spend more money.

Glover: As I’ve said from the very beginning when I was in here. I’m not going to call names on the other side. I don’t believe in doing that. I don’t believe in telling people what they should think. I do believe in honest debate. And I also think that facts are our friends.

Leahy: So way way overspending, but I think you said that actually revenue in Nashville has been going up consistently.

Glover: Correct. Correct.

Leahy: Yeah. Revenue goes up I think you told me, four to five percent a year?

Glover: Yes. On average here of late. And so it’s out tracking what inflation has been doing.  The problem is if you look from 2013 through last year it looks like we’re on track again this year by the way. But if we look at the last several years we were up about 32%. The problem is we spent 38%.

Carmichael: OK.

Glover: So the last time I checked, even whatever math grade you happen to be learning in, etc, 32 minus 38 is a negative six.

Carmichael: Yeah.

Glover: So you’re in trouble when you do those kinds of things. We’ve got to start sitting down and curbing our costs and expenditures.

Carmichael: Yes. And I accept that. I think that most people in Nashville do not realize, because I didn’t and I like to think that I pay generally pretty good attention to things. I had no idea that revenues in Nashville for the metro government, without a property tax rate increase had been growing naturally at four to five percent a year. That is a very reasonable amount of money to be growing because our population is growing at what rate? I don’t believe it…

Glover: See, I’m always very careful there. But the population has been growing obviously. The revenue has been growing. Once we get to the consensus we’ll know the population a little better. It’s harder to keep the number at what is exactly the population is today. We have grown.

We have grown extensively as anyone who drives through Nashville knows. When you drive through downtown or you drive out in your neighborhoods. You look at all the homes being built. You look at downtown and the number of high rises that have been built and continue to be built.

So, the natural cycle of business has been with increased revenues. We have not utilized that in order to do the infrastructure and the things we should have. In other words, we just spent it on other areas.

Leahy: Expensive ice cream basically.

Glover: Exactly.

Leahy: It looks like we have a Mayor who has come in and has tried to clean up a lot of the budget problems. But we also have in the city metro council we have two competing views. We have the Steve Glover view which is cut out the expensive ice cream.

And then we have I think we’ve described it accurately the metro council member at large Bob Mendes who wants to increase taxes even though revenues have been going up. Have I described those two competing views correctly Steve?

Glover: Well, in fairness to Mendes. I don’t know if he wants to keep spending the same amount because I have no idea what he wants to propose in the budget. He and I do differ with regard to the way we fix the finances.

Leahy: Does he or does he not want to increase taxes?

Glover: He’s done it for the last two years. Anybody can go look at that. I’m calling it the way it was.

Carmichael: When you say he’s done it, you mean he’s called for it. But he hasn’t succeeded.

Leahy: Not yet.

Carmichael: Well, I think it’s very important that the audience understands that they are going to have to get involved here. Because if they don’t I’m going back a few years when McWherter was governor he tried to pass an income tax and everybody claimed oh if we don’t pass the income tax state bond rating is going to fall through the floor.

Terrible things will happen. The world will come to an end as we know it. He didn’t get it passed and everything turned out to be just fine. Then Don Sundquist comes along and he tries to pass a state income tax using the same arguments.

Leahy: Yes.

Carmichael: And they were false arguments. They were false. In fact, Tennessee is much better off today without a state income tax than it would be with a state income tax.

Leahy: By far.

Carmichael: And the voters got involved in that. If the property owners in Nashville want property tax rates to go up on their property and if they just sit home and don’t attend the meetings. I understand that Bob Mendes is going to have meetings.

Leahy: Steve, if you are a resident of Davidson County and you want to voice your opinion about not raising property taxes, it turns out there’s a Tweet here from Bob Mendes. These are called ‘community budget meetings.’

Glover: Yes.

Leahy: Are they authorized by the metro council or are they Bob Mendes himself?

Glover: Well, he’s the chair of the budget and finance committee. No, we didn’t vote on it. It’s something he’s doing.

Listen to the third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.



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