Nashville Metro Council Members Get Costly Benefits They Shouldn’t, Think Tank Says

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The president of a Nashville-based center-right think tank said members of the Nashville Metro Council refuse to make the kinds of sacrifices that they ask their own constituents to make.

Beacon Center President Justin Owen said as much in a column on the organization’s website.

Owen said you get lifetime health insurance if you serve two terms on the Nashville City Council. He also said the city of Nashville has more than twice the debt held by the entire state of Tennessee.

“As Beacon pointed out in a recent policy report, lifetime Council benefits are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the city’s fiscal woes. But they are a tip that must be lopped off if the city is going to seriously pursue reforms to restore some fiscal sanity,” Owen said.

“Despite his earlier failure to use his historically high property tax increase to drive meaningful fiscal change elsewhere—such as our debt, pension system, and other liabilities—Mayor John Cooper is at least now discussing the issue. And some Council members are joining the call. Sadly, nearly half still refuse to make sacrifices that they are asking their own constituents to make. The push to merely review lifetime health benefits for Council members recently squeaked by on a 20-18 vote.”

Owen said that no other city in America “lavishes such rewards for public service.”

Owen also said that elected officials should not get such benefits while demanding that Nashville residents pay 34 percent more in taxes.

As The Tennessee Star reported this week, an effort to undo that tax increase is underway.

Cooper warned this week that the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act, if enacted, will disable the city, but the group that fought for it said Cooper’s time and energies are best spent helping taxpayers.

As The Star reported last month, the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act would roll back Cooper’s 34-37 percent tax increase and limit property tax rate increases to 2 percent every year without voters approving it.

Voters are scheduled to decide during a December 5 referendum. Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee (AFP-TN) helped gather the requisite number of signatures to make that referendum happen.

In a press release, Cooper spokesman Chris Song said the amendment would, among other things, create a $332 million deficit for this fiscal year, threaten Metro’s credit rating, and suspend capital projects. He also said it would cut the city’s emergency response, schools, trash collection, and road repair services.

AFP-TN State Director Tori Venable addressed Cooper’s press release in an email to The Tennessee Star Tuesday.

“His [Cooper’s] first statement said they would cut police & fire jobs, instead of furloughing even one position from Nashville’s over-bloated government bureaucracy,” Venable said.

“Now he claims it will render schools unrecognizable – which they already are based on MNPS inability to fully open schools or at least give parents a viable option that works best for their children.”

Venable, in a press release, said that Nashvillians “now can have their say on this harmful 34 percent property tax hike.”

“If the government can’t restrain itself, we the people will act to restrain the government. Mayor Cooper’s unrealistic scare tactics won’t work; we look forward to voters proving it at the polls and making their voices heard in December,” Venable said.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Justin Owen” by Beacon Center of Tennessee. 







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4 Thoughts to “Nashville Metro Council Members Get Costly Benefits They Shouldn’t, Think Tank Says”

  1. John

    If legally possible, the council needs to be dissolved, the the General Assembly needs to draft a bill in that contains a new set of guidelines for a newly elected council, which includes restrictions on pay and benefits, term limits, etc.

  2. JB Taylor

    Everyone in Nashville needs to read the report. Nashville, led by democrats is making the Titanic look like a successful cruise.

  3. Randy

    It’s not a revenue problem it’s a spending problem. Once corrected it must never again be violated. Government must live within its means but the public must stop asking for government funding.

  4. rick

    Comrade Cooper and Hong Kong Song are both liars. They lied and created stories about their transparency to the bars and restaurant . They are trying to scare people about the taxes based on the services they would lose. The arrogant mayor has no respect for the citizens at all or he would be making cuts. It’s either his way or the highway, Comrade Cooper is like a kid throwing a tantrum. That’s why he went after the bars and restaurants it’s a childish vendetta against them because they were suing Metro and him as they knew they were being treated unfairly.. Comrade Cooper is a small time political hack with traits that are verging on mental illness based on the way he operates. He has serious problems!