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. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed Tennessee State Executive Committeewoman Michelle Foreman to the newsmakers line.
During the first hour, Foreman explained her call for budget cuts to Metro government which would avoid a steep property tax increase. She described several ways that Metro government could frugally cut spending leaving for a gradual tax increase year over year.
Cunningham: Thank you two for calling in.
Foreman: Good morning. How are you, Ben?
Cunningham: Michelle, good morning. Good morning. I’m not used to all the technical going on here. So you’ll have to forgive my hesitancy a little bit. Thank you two for calling in. I mentioned this a little earlier, the two of you are involved in the recall effort.
First, of course, everybody in Davidson County from the polling we saw which showed about 66 percent of the voters according to the poll was against this 34 percent tax increase. And everybody called their councilmen and tried to stop it, unfortunately to no avail. Michelle, the group notax4nash.com. You were involved in starting that group. Tell us about that group and your efforts to stop this tax increase.
Foreman: Sure. Well like you mentioned we’ve petitioned the mayor and our council members not to go forward with this because way back when there was a group of about 5 or 6 of us in town and we actually pulled some numbers from the budget and said we can make cuts here and we could stop the capital improvement projects for one year and save ourselves millions and millions of dollars.
We can put bike lanes on hold, landscaping projects. Really things like that we can do without for about a year. Also, we asked department heads if you could just go in and cut your budget for one year. We also asked the mayor for furlough.
There are several of us that sat around the kitchen table and talked to the mayor and said hey if Metro employees were just furloughed one day a week for just seven weeks that would save around $50 million. And the mayor’s response was, you know it’s optics and those optics are not good optics.
Cunningham: Yes. Optics for whom? Not the taxpayers certainly.
Foreman: Exactly. You are you raising our property taxes when we really don’t have to. And we certainly don’t have to do it by 34 percent. And for me, it is 37 percent because I live in a district. Property tax increase knowingly, he knowingly, and the council knowingly did it when people still don’t have jobs. There are still people on unemployment. They are not gainfully employed.
And then if you are it might just be at a 50 percent level. You know restaurants and bars can only go back to work with 50 percent. you cannot pay your bills with that. So many people in Nashville can’t and they raised the property taxes anyway. So the recall petition came because (Inaudible talk).
And we’ve heard over and over again in Nashville does not have a revenue problem. Even during the COVID-19 shutdown we still had an increase in sales tax revenue that was above the projections of the mayor’s budget. And the mayor and the council knew it and they did not apply that overage to the tax increase right off the top.
It probably would have taken about 25 cents off of that dollar rate that we were going to be assessed. And they knew it and they didn’t do it. That would have saved us a lot of money right off the top. And then what the council said was, we’ll go back and look at it maybe in August and see how we can spend that. And I thought, spend it? That’s your problem! You keep spending our money and you refuse to save it for a rainy day such as the time we’re in now.
Cunningham: I don’t think most people realize that we increased our budget over last year.
Baigert: Right. By $116 million. And to Michelle’s point, it wasn’t bad enough that people were protesting against the 32 percent that the mayor proposed and the council just dismissed even that protest. And they raised it by 34 percent right, Michelle? They went higher than what the mayor proposed.
Foreman: To your point Laura, absolutely! As if the 32 percent was not bad enough, it was an egregious assault on the taxpayer to go to 34 percent and 37 percent out where I am.
Cunningham: The fact is that in all of these blue cities and Nashville is as blue as they get, the taxpayers simply don’t have much representation in the legislative council. It’s controlled by all the local public employee unions. By the education establishment.
By folks that have absolutely no interest in the taxpayer. And they were not afraid to vote for this tax increase. That really is the bottom line. It came up to this, there are 40 members on the council, and 32 of them is that right Michelle?
Foreman: Yes. 32.
Cunningham: 32 voted for this thing. They don’t have any fear of us. And the only way that they are going to have any fear of us is if we exercise this recall.
Listen to the full first 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.
Photo “Michelle Foreman” by Michelle Foreman.