NASHVILLE - Today, leading opponents of the proposed property tax increase on Metro Nashville taxpayers released a statement on the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's endorsement of the plan. Talk radio host Ralph Bristol, Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham, Nashville business owner Lee Beaman, and Justin Owen of the Beacon Center of Tennessee said the following:
Yesterday, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce publicly endorsed Mayor Karl Dean's 13 percent property tax hike. This is unfortunate for many of its business members who will undoubtedly face a significant increase in their tax burdens, and it also raises a serious question about a conflict of interest.
Under the mayor's budget proposal, the Chamber will receive its annual subsidy of $300,000 from Metro taxpayers. In order to avoid a perceived conflict of interest, we are calling on the Chamber to officially refuse this handout. In its statement, the Chamber pointed to the need to raise government employee salaries and fund our schools as justification for the tax increase. Refusing its $300,000 subsidy will help ensure that every dollar of the proposed tax hike goes to fund those programs the Chamber claims warrant the tax hike in the first place, rather than to boost its own bottom line.
Further, it is imperative that Mayor Dean withdraw proposed funding to any private entity that endorses the tax hike to likewise avoid any conflicts of interest. This will ensure that no taxpayer money is used by private parties to push for a tax increase based on their own potential benefits. It will also guarantee that the debate over the need of this tax increase remains transparent and without such conflicts.