Live from Music Row Friday 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 Nashville attorney Jim Roberts to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Roberts joined Leahy and Carmichael to update them on the petitions needed for the Nashville Payer Protection Act after last night’s primary. He added that they will need about 20,000 more signatures to bring them over the threshold in lieu of Metro government’s possibility of disposing any incorrectly signed petitions.
Leahy: Crom, we are efforting to contact Jim Roberts. But while we are waiting to connect with Jim the attorney who has put together this petition to get a charter amendment on the ballot in Nashville and that charter amendment if passed would turn back the 34 percent property tax increase passed by the Metro Council and replace it with a two percent property tax increase.
The election last night here in Davidson County was important because it set the number as to how many valid petition signatures Jim will need to get this charter amendment on the ballot. Now tell us a little bit about is it 10 percent?
Carmichael: 10 percent is what Jim has had said. And he thought there will be about 60,000 to 70,000 people who voted and it turned out there were 110,000 who voted. So he will need 11,000 valid signatures.
And Jim is a lawyer so when he looks at a signature that comes in he can tell if the signature itself and if the name and the address look legitimate but he can’t compare it to the name and the address in the voter database. And that is what Metro will use. And so it’s very important that people who do print and sign the petition pull out their voter registration card and sign their name as it is printed on their voter registration card.
Leahy: If you go to his website at 4goodgovernment.com or nashvilletaxpayerprotectionact.com, at the very top of it says the following: Our projected turn-in date of 20,000 plus signatures is September 15. Now we looked at the election results last night in the primary and it looks like there were 34,000 votes cast in the Republican primary. And about 76,000 cast in the Democratic primary. Which means 110,000. 10 percent of 110,000 is 11,000. That’s a lot higher than I think Jim thought it would be.
Leahy: I think we were talking about how he thought it would be about 7,500 or so. Maybe there was an effort to get a big turnout among Democrats in Davidson County to get that number up?
Carmichael: There wasn’t a particularly contested race in Davidson County was there?
Leahy: The Senate primary, but you know.
Carmichael: That got almost no coverage. There was almost no money spent so it’s not like there was some big drive. And then Cooper, we’re talking bout Congressman Cooper he easily won his primary I assume.
Leahy: We found out but I’m pretty sure that was the case.
Carmichael: So I don’t think there were any others. So it is interesting that the Democrat primary was so high. But it could be an attempt to increase the number of valid signatures.
Leahy: I think it could be. But it doesn’t matter whether it was an attempt because it is the number.
Carmichael: That is the number now.
Leahy: It’s now 11,000. I think when we spoke last with Jim he said he had about 12,000 signed?
Carmichael: Something like that.
Leahy: Not enough to go over the margin of…
Carmichael: Oh no.
Leahy: He needs double. He needs 20,000.
Carmichael: So for the folks in the audience who believe that voters ought to have a chance to weigh in on this very important question about what our property taxes will be going to the website.
Leahy: 4goodgovernment.com or nashvilletaxpayerprotectionact.com. Now the other part about this that I thought was very interesting in our discussions with Jim about it was if he turns in the 20,000 signatures on September 15 and if that’s the number he hits and there is a month and week to get there, I think he has a good chance to get to 20,000.
Leahy: And if he turns them in and they’re not able to throw out 9,000 signatures and he has to be on the ballot that charter amendment will be on the ballot in December.
Leahy: And then it will be a big big political campaign. Lots of money will be spent to try to defeat that charter amendment. But we had the mass transit tax which was roundly defeated in 2018 by a two to one margin. You would think that even if there’s big money on the other side there would be a good chance that this passes the two percent.
Carmichael: You mean repeal.
Leahy: Repealing the 34 percent wouldn’t you say?
Carmichael: I think there’s a good chance. And I think there will be a reasonable amount of money spent by the people who want it repealed.
Leahy: Oh yeah.
Carmichael: I think there will be enough of those people.
Leahy: I think so. So what you’ll see then is if it passes that doesn’t mean that the City Council won’t be able to come back and say we want more money. They just have to go through the process. The process is they can only increase property taxes two percent.
Carmichael: Two percent a year.
Leahy: If they want more they can if they present it to the voters. And the voters approve that increase.
Carmichael: Let’s be sure that the audience knows that until COVID Metro’s revenue was growing at consistently four to five percent a year by an increase not in taxes on the existing property but on the renewal of existing property where you might have a tall apartment building or a tall office building.
Or you might have a lot that had a ranch house on it and it was torn down and it was worth $500,000 and paying $5,000 a year in property taxes. And then two houses went up on that same property that each sold for a million. That piece of land started generating $20,000 in property taxes instead of five thousand.
It’s that type of thing that has increased property taxes in Nashville and will continue to do so. So the city has been getting a very consistent increase in revenue of about four or five percent. So a two percent property tax increase would boost that. And if the Council passed that every year would boost it to seven percent.
When Mayor Cooper ran as a candidate he identified a number of things that needed to be fixed. And to my knowledge, he hasn’t done much in the way of fixing the things that need to be fixed. The unfunded healthcare benefits for retirees is a long term problem that has to be addressed.
Leahy: One person who is doing a good thing who is joining us now is Jim Roberts. Good morning us Jim. Thanks for joining us.
Roberts: Good morning.
Leahy: We have an update, I guess you are going to need 11,000 now 10 percent of 110,000 signatures based on yesterday’s vote?
Roberts: That’s what it looks like. I looked at some of the preliminary numbers and I thought it was about 100,000. Or we need 10,000. But it may be as much as 110,000. We are there. we just need a good comfortable margin before we turn them in.
Leahy: You’re going to turn them in on September 15 to get the charter amendment to repeal the 34 percent property tax increase in Davidson County. How many petitions have been signed and turned in at this moment?
Roberts: A little under 14,000.
Carmichael: Well, then you need to get up to 20,000 so that people can vote. Because I think this is a big enough issue where democracy is more important than a representative government.
Roberts: Absolutely. We are worried that Metro will try and pull some shenanigans and disqualify valid signatures. So you need a lot more than you really need to protect yourself from the government.
Leahy: Well, you have five weeks and I think if you get a little over 5,000 signatures a week you’ll get to your 20,000 by September 15.
Roberts: We’re very confident yes.
Carmichael: We still want to encourage those people who believe in democracy. I don’t care where you stand on whether or not you think the property tax increase is a good one. But if you think it’s a good idea. If you think that the voters ought to weigh in on something that big which is my position.
Then go 4goodgovernment.com and print out the petition. Sign it properly. Pull out your voter id card and sign it the way that your name is listed there. And put your address as it’s listed there. And then get as many of your friends and family who live in Davidson County to do exactly the same thing.
Leahy: And Jim what is the other website that you can enter and get right to this position?
Roberts: If you just Google Nashville Tax Payer Protection Act which is what this is called, it will take you right there. We are high on the search page. I think we are number one. This is a big thing. We’re getting thousands of hits on the website it seems like almost every day.
I think that the things that have happened in the last week or so and some of the council votes go in and adjust the tax rate because of the extra tax revenues that came in and they just got shut down. That shows a real intent to spend and spend. Metro has learned nothing in this process.
Leahy: Jim Roberts, come back next Friday and give us an update. We’ll see if you get another 1,000 signatures. You have 14,000 and you need to get to 20,000 by September 15
Roberts: That’s our goal.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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