Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle on Tuesday gave members of the Davidson County Election Commission what they wanted and ruled against arguments in favor of the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act.
The Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act referendum, if approved, would roll back Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s 34 to 37 percent tax increase.
As reported, Nashville attorney Jim Roberts fought the Davidson County Election Commission to get the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act referendum on the December 5 ballot.
Roberts told The Tennessee Star Tuesday evening that he was still reading Lyle’s ruling and could not concisely describe everything in it.
“We knew from the start that Metro was going to fight this. The Tennessee law was clear. They wouldn’t be able to fight it until after the election,” Roberts said.
“And, so, by bringing in new standards they were able to challenge it, but one of the strategies we had was to figure out what their attack was, fix that problem and resubmit it. There is going to be another ballot initiative, and the same things are going to be on it, most likely.”
Davidson County Election Commission Chairwoman Emily Reynolds said in an emailed press release that she and her colleagues appreciated what they called Lyle’s thoughtful approach.
“The Commission said from the beginning that we needed to get this right, out of concern for the city and the taxpayers, particularly given the expense of a special election,” Reynolds said.
“Now we have the necessary guidance we were seeking.”
But members of two other organizations expressed their displeasure.
Justin Owen, president of the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee, said in an emailed press release that “taxpayers from every city and county across the state deserve a say when their property taxes are raised excessively.”
Beacon is a right-of-center think tank.
“Taxpayers deserve a say when it comes to property taxes. Cities like Nashville and Murfreesboro have spent irresponsibly for years and forced taxpayers to swallow the cost with huge property tax increases,” said Owen.
“Tennessee is one of only four states in the country without some type of property tax limitation, and it is well past time that we protect Tennessee homeowners and taxpayers. This isn’t a partisan issue, as 91 percent of Tennesseans believe they should have direct input on property tax hikes, compared to just 2 percent who oppose it. If a city or county wants to raise property taxes substantially, they should get the buy-in of the voters they represent.”
Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee State Director Tori Venable addressed Lyle’s ruling in a separate press release.
“This ruling is extremely disappointing for us, Nashville families, businesses and everyone holding on to hope that the government would listen to their outcry over the crushing 34 percent property tax hike,” Venable said.
“Metro has continually tried to silence and ignore 27,000 Nashvillians who signed this petition in support of putting some guardrails up on Nashville’s spending addiction that put the city in its current crisis. This property tax hike will do nothing to help our city’s finances; it will only fuel Metro’s reckless spending and taxing proposals.”
As reported in September, members of the Davidson County Election Commission voted to neither approve nor reject the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. They instead passed the matter on to a chancery court to guide them on how to proceed. They also moved the “conditional” date of the election from December 5 to December 15.
Roberts previously told The Star about a backup plan in case Lyle ruled against the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act.
“We can mail out another 100,000 and 150,000 petitions to people’s homes and start collecting signatures,” Roberts said.
“Our goal would be to have it [the referendum] probably in late February.”
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