Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced Friday that the residents would soon see property tax rates decrease to levels seen years ago. According to several city council members, however, this may not really be the ideal property tax reduction that Cooper portrayed.
Cooper broke the news in a one-on-one interview with WSMV News4 Nashville on Friday morning.
“We’re going to be the lowest-taxed city, within a penny or two perhaps, ever in the state of Tennessee,” claimed Cooper.
Nashville, we are growing as a city and soon, we will grow while having a much lower property tax rate. As a result of the reappraisal cycle, the new rate will be close to the record-low rate from 2 years ago. Thank you Holly Thompson and @WSMV for having me on this morning. https://t.co/f0XisOtPE0
— Mayor John Cooper (@JohnCooper4Nash) April 16, 2021
At-large Councilman Bob Mendes took to Twitter to call Cooper’s announcement “misleading.” He claimed that Cooper was wrong to attribute the tax rate reduction to fiscal stewardship.
“EVERY reassessment cycle ever has reduced the property tax rate. Under State law, the city’s revenue NEVER increases due to reassessment. Property values go up, tax rate goes down a proportionate amount & city revenue stays the same. Always. Taking credit for this is nonsense,” wrote Mendes. “Often, over the decades, Metro increased taxes in the same year as a reassessment. When this happened – reassessment pushes the rate down automatically & then Metro nudges it up. In these years, the appearance was an overall tax RATE reduction even though TAXES PAID went up.”
Just watched it. It's misleading.
It incorrectly suggests fiscal stewardship is why the reassessment will drive the rate down & incorrectly suggests the amount of taxes paid will go down.
His social media is trying to fix it, but he'll answer questions about this for a while. https://t.co/QJULB2L0mk
— Bob Mendes (@mendesbob) April 16, 2021
At-large Metro City Councilman Steve Glover concurred with Mendes’ assessment, saying the law concerning property appraisals caused this to occur.
Glover referred The Tennessee Star to his Friday interview with 997 WTN news anchor Ken Weaver. In his interview, he pointed out that Nashville is required by law to lower property taxes due to heightened tax increases within reappraisals.
“Well, this is a classic smoke and mirrors game. I listened to the interview closely. […] What he said and what we’re going to do are two different things,” said Glover. “[I]f you have a substantial property tax increase in reappraisal […] by law, the property tax rate has to come back down to about the $3.15 range again.”
Glover said “drove him crazy” that politicians like Cooper aren’t telling the truth. He clarified that they have to adjust tax rates down as the property appraisal rates go up. That means many Nashville residents will likely still be paying what they were projected to owe under the property tax increase.
“That substantial increase you saw in 2021? That’s what you’re still going to pay. He’s not going to roll your taxes back to [where they were in] 2019. The amount you owe will still roughly be the same,” said Glover. “I’m surprised everyone down there [in Metro government] doesn’t have their arm in a sling from patting themselves on the back for everything.”
Ever since Cooper announced the 34 to 37 percent tax increase last year, residents have been fighting to repeal it. Local attorney Jim Roberts started a grassroots effort to ensure that any tax increases above 2 percent would be voted on by taxpayers. Although his Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act was struck down by Davidson County Chancellor Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle late last fall, Roberts renewed his efforts earlier this year.
The push to adopt the act is still underway.
Glover said that, despite Cooper’s announcement, voters should still vote for the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. He emphasized that Nashville government needs to be more responsible when it comes to handling taxpayer money.
“Why? It will change the rules. If we want to change the taxes greater than 3 percent, we need to give people the opportunity to vote,” said Glover. “Bottom line is simply this: I’m still going to vote [because] I believe the people should always have a vote. I believe anytime that people start to take advantage of you, [then] you need to have a say in what is going on.”
Cooper said that Nashville residents should receive their property appraisal letters by the end of this month.
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