Live from Music Row Thursday 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 Metro Nashville’s City Council Member-at-Large Steve Glover to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Glover described the situation where the Metro Nashville City Council voted 32 to 8 in favor of a 34 percent tax increase which was designed by Council Chairman Bob Mendes. He was clearly sickened by the vote and stressed to all registered voters that they need to head to the polls in December as well as sign the 4goodgovernment.com petition.
Leahy: We are joined now by our very good friend Metro Council Member-at-Large Steve Glover. Good morning Steve.
Glover: Good morning sir.
Leahy: So yesterday in the early morning Metro Council voted 32 to eight in favor of a 34 percent property tax increase. Tell us how that happened.
Glover: Well, 32 percent wasn’t enough I guess. (Leahy chuckles) The way it happened was the way this junk always happens. It moves fast. Let me say there is an amendment where I got caught in a rock and a hard spot because it removes steps back out in the Mendes bill because there were cuts to the police department.
So I had to do somewhat of a trade-off I guess. I feel like a heel because some of the steps on that are not going to go for all the employees. You know we have some work to do. And I am trying my best to see if we can correct that. And I will spend that time. The rest of it was a farce. Not one real cut.
Not one real bite of the apple to knock the spending down. In my budget, all they said was oh, you are going to cut the essential services of the government. Well, I’ll tell you as a small business owner I consider the services that I offer essential and the government shut us down. And as you are well aware!
I used to be able to come down to the studio. Obviously you guys are still operating. So many businesses in town are at such a handicap because they can’t open doors completely. Can’t have 100 percent occupancy. So many blocks but yet the government feels like we just need to keep plugging along spending money. Oh, and by the way, we don’t have enough so we’re going to take more out of your pocket. It really is sickening.
Leahy: Why did the council raise it to a 34 percent property tax increase? That was the Bob Mendes proposal and not go for Mayor Cooper’s 32 percent property tax increase.
Glover: Why they didn’t is because who knows? I never would have gone there period. Mine was about a 21 percent is what it ended up being. I felt like it could have been lower. But every obstacle they could throw at me they threw at me. I began working on this at the end of April, first of May and worked throughout the month.
Then I worked all the way up to the very last moment that I could to try and negotiate inside of the system. It’s built and designed to fail people because all the power lays within the mayor and the director of the finances office. Everything we wanted to do that was logical and that would actually save taxpayers’ money without we’d have to have approval from the finance director.
Nice person. Look, I have a lot of respect for him. A very very smart man. But at the end of the day, there is no teamwork in this. It is well here’s the stuff that we want to do and this is what we’re going to do. When Councilman, Chairman Mendes proposed an even higher tax rate, my goodness! You want to talk about singing to the choir on that side of the aisle. That’s their favorite hymn. Give me more money and I’ll show you how well I can spend it.
Leahy: The final budget that passed goes into effect July 1, right?
Leahy: OK. How much of an increase in spending has there been from the previous fiscal year to the next fiscal year starting July 1? How much spending will increase?
Glover: They’ll say only about 105 million. I say they want it to 332 million more. So they don’t talk about spending because they want to make up a hundred million of it basically in a reserve fund in a one year period. We didn’t blow all that out in a one year period, yeah. But last year we had a massive hit.
Normally we wouldn’t go that heavily. But we’ve got to make it all up. Our policy says five percent. It’s amazing how they use the policies when it’s to their advantage. But whenever it’s uncomfortable for them and when I say them I’m talking about the administration.
Let me be very clear, or those in the council that want to take what I call the easy road and just take money out of people’s pockets as opposed to trying to figure out how to be more responsible with the people’s money. That’s what they do. It’s written in such a way where they go, no, no, no. We have to do this and we have to do that.
Leahy: So the increase in this budget over the last year is five percent or more?
Glover: $332 million. No. We went from like two points three to two point four million. Yes, about five percent. Somewhere in that range.
Leahy: Did anybody, anybody say, “Oh it’s an economic problem out there for people to pay these taxes because you’re shutting their businesses down, or limiting their businesses. What we ought to consider is actually cutting spending.” Did anybody at all suggest that?
Glover: Are you talking about anybody other than myself?
Leahy: That’s exactly what I’m saying, Steve.
Glover: Ok. No. No. I’m the only one who suggested it. There were others that agreed. Look, Michael, let’s face it, I’m the most vocal Conservative there is out there. I get beat up every day and that’s fine. That doesn’t bother me. I’m a pretty tough old bird.
The one part as I said that bothers me more than anything else was the steps for the Metro employees. It got very fast. It got very contentious at the end. I also didn’t want to see losing 48 police officers in the way that amendment was built.
I didn’t vote for the Mendes budget but I did vote for that amendment and I’ll stand up and tell people why I did. I don’t believe in defunding our police. I don’t believe in cutting our police force at all. I regret that there was that particular casualty. There was no step in the mayors.
This had a one percent cola. I’m certainly not saying that it was the right thing to do overall. But when you look at the money, the Mendes budget was going to eliminate the 48 new positions that the police department had and I just couldn’t go that route either.
I was afraid the Mendes budget was going to pass. I picked a couple of the amendments and voted for them to make sure they got on the bill. And then as I said, I did not support the Mendes budget which is the one that passed. I supported mine which was about a 21, 22 percent tax increase. Which I still felt like was far too much.
But, I cut somewhere in the neighborhood of about 88 million. It’s what the additional cuts were over what the mayor’s office says they “cut.” Mine were real cuts. It would have required furloughs. It would have required sitting down with a pencil and actually going to work.
It doesn’t matter to me because we don’t get that option as to say, furlough, do this do that. We just have to cut the money. And that’s what I did. I had a very calculated process that I worked through on mine. I got eight votes on mine. That kind of tells you what the balance is in that council. There’s your math.
Leahy: Metro Council member-at-Large Steve Glover, only eight of 40 members of the metro council voted for your much better proposal.
Leahy: And eight voted against the Mendes budget that increased property taxes 34 percent and increases the budget by about five percent. Let me ask you this. It says to me that in our democratic system here in Nashville we have only elected a very small percent, 20 percent of the council has common sense. A very small percent of the council has common sense. That’s the only conclusion I can come to. What does that say about the future of Nashville?
Glover: It says that there is a petition going around right now that will limit tax increases without a vote by the people. It says you better make sure you sign that petition and that you sign that thing.
Leahy: It’s 4goodgovernment.com.
Glover: Oh, you already know that. Ok. Good!
Leahy: This is the proposal that Jim Roberts has put out there. And if it gets enough signatures there will be a charter amendment on the ballot in December correct?
Glover: And people better go vote.
Glover: They better go vote. I don’t necessarily like the percentage that’s built into that one. But I think it’s fine. Because if Nashville government doesn’t get its act together and doesn’t understand the damage that they’ve done to the people of Nashville right now they never will.
Leahy: Metro Council Member-at-Large Steve Glover, thanks so much for giving us the first-hand report of what happened at the Nashville Metro Council early yesterday morning.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “Nashville City Hall” by Nicolas Henderson. CC BY 2.0.