Live from Music Row Wednesday 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 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed guest Metro Councilman-at-Large Steve Glover to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Glover weighed in on Mayor Cooper’s plan to raise Davidson County property taxes to the tune of 32%. He assured listeners that he would not take this sitting down and would fight against it claiming that the people cannot afford an extra $720 per year tax increase in these unprecedented times. Glover stated that this is not just a Conservative issue but an everybody issue and people need to start contacting their district council members now.
Leahy: We are joined now by our very good friend, Metro Council Member-at-Large here in Metro Nashville Davidson County, Steve Glover. Good morning Steve!
Glover: Good morning Michael, how are you?
Leahy: Well, we have a lead story and the lead story is that Mayor John Cooper (Laughter) wants to increase property taxes by 32% and he’s not going to furlough any employees. I don’t know. It doesn’t sound like a good plan to me. What’s your take on it because you’ve been there?
Glover: I thought we were going to be talking about upcoming Mother’s Day and what we can do. This kind of shocks me that you want to talk about this. (Leahy laughs) No. So, here’s the thing. And I think you know what my answers going to be before I ever give it to you. We shouldn’t make the people do anything differently than we the government are willing to do. We laid off a ton of people in Nashville on March 16 and 22 by the executive order that we were shutting down.
Leahy: Private businesses did.
Glover: Right. Private business. So we did that to the private businesses so I think to take anything off the table as far as how do we balance the budget and how do we look at making this work, I don’t want to see anybody lose their job.
I didn’t want to see anyone lose their job in the private sector. At the end of the day, it’s happened, it’s happening, and it’s going to continue to happen. The longer this rolls on the more devastating it’s going to continue being for the pocketbooks of the small business owners out there. The subcontractors, the 1099 workers, and everything.
I think to say that we’re going to take anything off the table as far as having a robust conversation about how do we get through this is the wrong approach. You and I are going to be aligned on that. Absolutely. Number one. Number two. There are some key essential things that we don’t touch. Public safety you know where I am on that one. The education pieces as far as the teachers. But and I’m not saying that everybody else is not in an important position, but I don’t think it’s a choice right now.
I think we have to look at every place to determine. Frankly, I’ve heard of places that are doing the furloughs now. That’s an interesting idea that I hadn’t really thought about until the last week or so but I think we have to explore it that way maybe we don’t lay anybody off but we sit down and say, how can we get through this without it being completely devastating to everybody involved?
Because here’s where we are right now. If it stays exactly like it is or like it’s been proposed by Mayor Cooper we’re looking at roughly about a $720 annual bump in what you’ll be handing over the Metro. That’s on the average household. If you take some downtown businesses and some throughout Davidson County it’s going to be a much harder bump than just $720. But the average household roughly $720.
That’s some really money there. That’s right at $60 average a month. So about two dollars a day. It may not sound like much but with today’s economy and you don’t have a job or you’ve been furloughed or laid off and you have that situation two dollars a day right now is not something you’ve got.
Leahy: Yes. Now did the mayor give you a call or talk to you and say Councilman Glover you are an important at-large member of our council here’s what I’m thinking about doing? I want to increase property taxes by 32% and not lay anybody off or not do any furloughs for all of our Metro workers. What do you think of this? Did you have that conversation with the mayor?
Glover: Hmm. Hmm. Really.
Leahy: He didn’t ask for your advice?
Glover: Well, no not really but I don’t know that he asked for anybody’s advice. I’m not certain. I think it would have been far better. I regret it. Personally I like him. I don’t like this plan. And so I’m going to do everything I can. The key thing is right here how many people like this plan as it is? I mean truly. How many people…
Leahy: Well, I think all of the Metro employees like it.
Glover: Do they really? Here you are looking at a 32% increase in your property taxes and unfortunately for those who live in Davidson County which not all of them do. But we’re going to really double whammy them. I don’t know. I’ve seen some emails coming from Metro employees coming through that aren’t happy about it being 32% at all.
There’s not step raises. No raises period. There’s nothing there. And so no they’re not really happy with it. I just think that right now given the unique circumstances and the unprecedented times that we’re in our lifetime, I think it’s irresponsible of government not to look at every option available for how do we come through this. And when we do come through on it are we going to keep the taxes right there? You want to take a guess of what the answer will be? Of course, we will. It’s what we do.
Leahy: Taxes always go up, they never go down.
Glover: Well, I don’t remember them ever going down.
Leahy: At least in Democratic-controlled cities. I am shocked! I am really shocked that Mayor Cooper did not reach out and talk to you about this plan. Is he pivoting now from away from lets everybody now talk together I want to hear from everybody? Is he pivoting to a command and control approach to the city?
Glover: I don’t know the answer. That’s a question you’d have to ask him. The one thing I will say in his defense is that he inherited a mess before we even hit this. He did. No buts ands or ifs. We knew it was going to be rough and we knew we could get through it and it would be minimally painful for everybody.
This particular plan is going to be painful for everybody and its just not something that for me that sits well. I think we would have been much better off to have long conversations about it. It’s handed off to the council now. But you have to understand the way our charter works. The minute the mayor proposes a property tax in Nashville you’re going to have one unless we come up with 21 council members that come through with the cuts that are needed to eliminate that tax increase.
Leahy: Well, that’s not going to happen.
Glover: No. Otherwise, you’re going to get a substitute budget and you’ll have several of those I suspect with alternative options that will be available. I know I’m working on one and it will have some of these things in it where we don’t put the burden of every penny on the back of the taxpayers in Nashville.
Leahy: What’s the timeline of turning this budget into reality?
Glover: Well, they said yesterday at the budget briefing that we’ll have this done by June 15. So what do we got? 6 weeks?
Leahy: If you wanted to prognosticate for us, what’s the likelihood that this proposed budget by the mayor to increase property taxes in Nashville by 32% and lay nobody off from the Metro employees. What’s the likelihood that this very budget will be passed and go into effect?
Glover: Well, if I told you that I thought it was very likely to I might as well roll over and quit right now. That’s not who I am and what I will do and what I believe in. So from my standpoint, I don’t think its got a good chance of passing right now.
Glover: But it’s going to depend upon the people of Nashville stand up and make their voices heard. This is not a Conservative only issue. This is everybody’s issue now because nobody escapes this one. The weird part is that we’re talking about how we want affordable housing and all these other things. 31.69% Let’s round it to a 32% increase in property taxes.
We just took away $32,000 on the average home in selling power and buying power in a market where the homes are already unbelievably expensive. I hope once people understand the dynamics of this and the actual economic impact on their pocket they’ll start getting up and screaming and start contacting their district council members telling them no. Give me a different plan.
Listen to the full third hour here:
– – –