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 welcomed guest Metro Councilman At-Large Steve Glover to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Glover expressed his disagreement with the significant property tax increase proposed by Mayor Cooper last week. He stated that he didn’t believe that this was a solution to the problem and vowed to stand up to his promise of protecting the people of Davidson County’s wallets.
Leahy: Right now on the line we are joined by our good friend and all-star panelist and metro council member at large Steve Glover. Steve, how are you this morning?
Glover: Well, just doing fine. Sort of like everybody else. Getting a little cabin crazy. But that’s OK.
Leahy: Well, the Mayor last week announced that the way to handle this crisis was to raise property taxes dramatically he said. A significant increase in property taxes. I’m not an economist and I don’t play one on the radio but I do have some common sense. I am skeptical of the consequences of dramatically increasing property taxes. What say you?
Glover: Well I think you know what I’m going to say. I disagree with that move. Right now we have too many small businesses trying to figure if they are even going to be able to hold on. I don’t remember where I heard it, maybe it was with you but I don’t remember.
Actually I believe it was because I think Crom was the one who was saying it. That if it goes on another month we’re going to lose 25% of small businesses out there. You’re looking at 15 million job losses. Because I’m co-chairing the small business taskforce here in Nashville trying to assist small businesses on where do they go to look for resources. The fed. The state grants and things that may be out there.
Every day I speak to small business owners. And we all have the exact same fear which is if this continues on a lot longer we don’t know that we’ll make it. Now that’s not because we planned poorly it’s just because there was no way to plan for this.
So I think the timing of sitting here and saying we’re going to have a substantially sharp property tax increase, the timing couldn’t be worse. I’m just not convinced that that’s absolutely the way we should go. And so as of right now, I’m not in agreement with that. I don’t believe you are going to show me data that says that’s the only solution.
Leahy: Well, you know the left and most of the metro-council members have been dying to increase the property taxes for some time. This is sort of I guess the opportunity for them to do that.
Glover: (Chuckles) I always say it the way I see it and the way I believe it. I think right now you couldn’t have picked a worse time. I know there’s a rebellion going on right now just amongst people. We don’t even know what the true dollar amount would be.
But I do know this if you are talking about a substantially sharp property tax increase we are probably looking at a somewhere between a 25% to 40% property tax increase in Davidson County. And the reason I know that is that last year there was almost a 17% property tax increase.
And now we’ve got all these other unforeseen expenses. I don’t think everything has shaken out yet about what the true economic damage is. These four months are going to hurt. March, April, May, and June, about 40-45% of our sales tax revenues come into Nashville simply because of all the events we are scheduled around.
Obviously in the past, while we’ve seen some tremendous growth that occurred, a lot of people wonder where the money is. So do I. I have a feeling where a lot of the money went. A lot of it goes to special interest groups in certain areas. The bottom line is we’re not going to have that this year.
So you are blessed and you are cursed with really the kind of the same thing here because all of that tourism trade is not out there. Broadway, they’re not open downtown right now. That’s detrimental to thousands of employees and all of the business owners that have all of those small businesses there.
Leahy: So when will the mayor tell us exactly how sharp this increase in the property taxes will be?
Glover: If I’m not mistaken I don’t have the charter memorized. I think its got to be right around or on April 28th is when we have to see it. And then the council will have until June 30th of midnight to either pass a substitute budget or adopt the mayor’s proposal. Now I don’t know how much longer we’ve got.
I need people to understand if he proposes a tax increase, what has to happen in order for there not to be a tax increase or in order for there to be a lower tax increase than what was proposed. A lot of people think you just sit in there and vote no. If you vote no that’s a yes to the mayor’s budget. Our charter is really weird how its written on that. You have to really understand your P’s and Q’s and how you are going to go with this and how you are going to attack it.
And that’s what I’ve been working on ever since I got elected in September. I anticipated a tax increase. I didn’t anticipate a sharp or substantial tax increase. I don’t believe that’s the answer. I’m not going to change my mind on that. I’m going to stand and do what I said I was going to do. I asked people to go vote for me so we can help protect your wallet. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Leahy: You know, the other part of this equation, let’s say the mayor comes out with an increase in property taxes of at least 25% and possibly as much as 40%. My question on that Steve is, OK, well you can increase taxes as much as you want. The question is how much actual cash revenue will that increase raise. And frankly, I don’t think that it’s necessarily going to be the linear projection that the mayor’s advisors are expecting. What do you think of that?
Glover: Well I’m in the throw of running all the numbers right now. The bad news is that I don’t have any clients coming in because of the profession I’m in. Retirement and income planning. The good news is I’ve had plenty of time to work on other things.
So I’ve been running through all the numbers and looking at all the potential equations. The dollars that you anticipate are going to come in. The property is a little more stable and it really is versus your sales tax. The problem is going to be, in one breath they say they want affordable housing.
In the next breath, they say they want to raise taxes sharply. Here’s the problem. Every 10% you raise property taxes you take away $10,000.00 of buying power from people in the city. So if you raise it 25% as an example you just knocked off $25,000.00 in the potential buying power of somebody to try and buy a home, or you’ve just taken it out of their pocket if you’re trying to sell a home in Nashville.
While the economy has been phenomenal in the past. Our real estate has increased exponentially. Once again its a blessing and a curse at the same time. If you have this type of growth and this type of sharp increase in property taxes you are going to lose buying power. So I don’t really want to hear anybody say we’ve got to do affordable housing if we’re going to do this type of maneuver.
Leahy: I notice in the private sector virtually every company is either firing people or laying them off. Or reducing payroll by 20% or 30%. Will metro employees see a reduction in their pay at all?
Glover: Well you know my job is no. I mean for that. What everybody else is going to think. I can’t answer for them. I can tell you for me, I’m firmly committed to making sure that we take care of the employees. Even during great times we still threw it on their back of why we couldn’t give a raise or do this and do that.
I’ve run the numbers. I’m working through everything right now. I believe it’s going to require drastic cuts and what’s known as non-essential services. I’ll get into that. I have a substitute budget I’m going to do for this. It may require a minimal tax increase to make sure we pay those employees.
Look at everybody that’s out there on the front lines. They’ve been going hard since March third. Every time I see them it’s now from a distance and I wave and tell them thank you. I’ll tell you they are exhausted.
Leahy: Steve there are the front line people and then there are the people who work in the offices who we’re not quite sure what they do.
Listen to the third hour here:
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