Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s staff on Wednesday did not address the likely unintended consequences of raising property taxes by 20 percent to make up for the COVID-19 pandemic diminishing the city’s finances.
Cooper’s staff also would not say whether it’s wise to grant restaurant and other business owners the right to reopen sooner rather than later, so they can again generate tax revenue and help the city. This, even if business owners took reasonable precautions to protect people’s health.
Cooper spokesman Chris Song referenced the COVID-19 pandemic and the deadly tornadoes that battered Middle Tennessee in an email to The Tennessee Star Wednesday.
“As Mayor Cooper stated, we can’t print money or borrow to cover our operating expenses. We must raise property taxes, as difficult as that is right now,” Song said.
“But, again, our ability to respond to two simultaneous emergencies will confirm Nashville as a place where people want to put their future.”
Song told The Star that Metro officials have already taken steps to shore up the city’s cash flow, including a hiring freeze, except for public safety and other critical services.
“Promotions, pay raises, and travel is on hold, and non-essential capital spending has been delayed. Mayor Cooper has also directed all departments to identify immediate cost reduction opportunities. These actions will reduce city spending by millions of dollars,” Song said.
“As Mayor Cooper mentioned in his State of Metro address, he is working with the Finance Department to continue a thorough review of every option to make our city fiscally sound, including every cost-cutting opportunity available. Metro must balance its budget, just like businesses and households balance their budgets, which will be submitted on the 28th.”
Metro Council Member At-Large Steve Glover was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but on his Facebook page this week he urged Nashville residents to speak out about higher property taxes.
“Please remember when I started warning us about 5 years ago in Nashville we wouldn’t be ready for the next turn down. Instead we just kept spending,” Glover said while posting a photo of Nashville’s Lower Broadway — without any tourists.
“Welcome to Broadway 4/21/20 at 8:30pm. Never dreamed it could be this bad, did know that the answer would be just raise taxes. Please get involved in the discussion. If you are okay with raising your taxes and taking money out of your pocket for spending on non-essentials other than our public safety and educating our children with real accountability, then get your check books out. Metro only needs about $45 to $100+ per month extra from you. Best time in our economic history and we are broke. Is that you’re fault? Get involved, pay attention to your local metro government.”
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