On Tuesday morning the Mayor presents his state of Metro address at 10AM at the new Cumberland Park on the east bank of the river and that evening he presents his budget to the Metro Council. I am expecting a proposal for a property tax increase.
I have watched most of the budget hearings in which the departments go before the Mayor and make the case for their budget. While most departments say they can live without an increase, or even could survive with a 2% cut, police, fire and especially Metro Schools are asking for big increases. The ground work for a tax increase has being laid.
This article from Memphis reports that Memphis has been losing population since 2008 while surrounding counties have been growing and that Memphis tax bills are much higher than surrounding counties. The author provides this example of the tax burden of Memphis compared to the suburbs: "The owner of a $150,000 house in Memphis pays $2,703 a year in taxes. If you move about 25 miles east of Cordova to Somerville, you will pay only $806 in taxes for a house of the same value." (read more)
I suspect the same thing could be said about Nashville. I have not done the study yet, but I suspect Nashville has been losing population also and that our tax burden is considerably higher. In addition, I suspect that our population loss has been a loss among the more affluent and the middle class segment of the population. I suspect we have been losing the people we most need to keep.
The cost of taxes of course in only one factor in determining where one may chose to live. School quality and the perception of, or actual, crime rates and prevalence of gang activity are also factors. I myself would not want to live 50 miles away. I would not want to make a 50 mile round trip everyday. Hours spend in the car are not really your hours; they are part of the time devoted to making a living to my way of reasoning. Also, one should take into account the cost of gas.
I love living near downtown. I like to wait to 7:30 to decide it I want to see a show that starts at 7:30. I don't want to have to plan ahead to go grocery shopping. I like the restaurants and art crawl and events in the park and lower Broadway and being close to work so I can come home for lunch and close to my doctors and the vibrancy of the city. However, for people who are contemplating living in the Davidson County suburbs of Nashville anyway, why not move just a few miles further and save a hundred fifty dollars a month on property taxes?
In trying to sell a tax increase, the proponents will compare our tax burden to the other major Tennessee cites and other comparable sized cities in the southeast. That is not who we are competing against. We are competing against Lavergne, Ashland City and Mt Juliet for residents who are making decisions about where they want to live and businesses deciding where they want to locate. An increase in property taxes will drive people out of the county.