Here is the video of the State of Metro address by Mayor Karl Dean in which he makes the case for a property tax hike.
First Property Tax Rate Adjustment in Mayor’s Tenure ProposedNASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 1, 2012), Mayor's Office Statement - In his fifth State of Metro address, Mayor Karl Dean today announced a fiscal year 2012-2013 operating budget that moves the city forward by investing in schools and public safety, while also reducing the overall budget for other Metro departments by $3 million.
Additionally, Dean is proposing to adjust the property tax rate upward for the first time during his tenure, saying a 53 cent increase would generate about $100 million in new annual revenue. The impact on a typical Nashville homeowner would be approximately $16 a month, or $192 a year, using the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors’ median home price of $145,400.
“I refuse to be the mayor who turns back the clock on public safety and education,” Dean said. “I choose to continue our forward momentum.”
In Dean’s proposed $1.71 billion budget, the new revenue would allow the city to continue to invest in education and hire up to 100 new teachers, increase the starting salary of new hires from $35,000 to $40,000 and add two new non-traditional schools.
When it comes to public safety, the new revenue would allow the city to retain 50 police officers first hired with a federal COPS grant, provide staff and equipment to operate a new DNA crime lab and fund two new positions in the District Attorney’s office to specifically handle domestic violence cases.
“No mayor wants to stand up and talk about raising taxes,” Dean said. “But we’re not Washington. We can’t run a deficit, and we can’t print money. The easy answer, the political answer to our situation, would be to let the city go backwards, make Draconian cuts and frame the consequences with some anti-tax mantra.”
The tax rate adjustment also would allow the city to invest in employees by giving nearly all Metro workers – about 95 percent of them – a 4 percent salary increase. Department heads and some senior managers would get a lower 2 percent increase.
Without the property tax increase, “We could lay off 200 police officers, 200 firefighters, 200 teachers, close all four regional community centers, all five regional libraries – and still not come close to making up even half of what the tax rate adjustment will generate,” Dean said.
Dean is proposing to protect Nashville’s most vulnerable residents by extending the Property Tax Relief program. The proposed budget includes increasing Metro’s contribution to the program in order to double the match that the state of Tennessee provides. The proposal also would double the number of tax relief recipients who have their tax bills paid in full based on the appraised value of their home.
“By doing this, the more than 6,400 elderly, disabled and disabled veterans in our community who participate in this program will be greatly protected from the property tax adjustment,” Dean said.
During today’s speech, Dean announced elements of a new capital spending plan, the city’s first since 2010. He will propose approximately $300 million in strategic investments in the city’s infrastructure, including $100 million for schools and $200 million for the general government, in a plan to be submitted to the Metro Council later this month.
The capital spending plan for schools is the largest since the 1990s. It will include more than $20 million for improvements to Stratford High School, funding to build a new gymnasium for Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, expansion and renovations at seven elementary and middle schools and funds to purchase land for a new elementary and middle school in Southeast Davidson County, as well as to purchase land for a future expansion of Julia Green Elementary.
The capital spending plan also will propose additional investments in sidewalks, paving and bikeways; continuing work on riverfront redevelopment; acquiring additional property for the Open Space plan; and continued expansion of greenways and improvements of parks, including Centennial Park and Shelby Park. It will also propose construction of a new Bellevue library and expansion of Bus Rapid Transit services to Murfreesboro Road.
Dean gave his State of Metro address at the new Cumberland Park on the East Bank of the river. Nashville singer-songwriter Chuck Mead was the special musical guest.
Since taking office, Dean managed the city through the Great Recession and historic flooding at a time when city revenues grew by a mere 2 percent, compared to the four years prior when revenues grew by 20 percent. Nevertheless, he fully funded education and maintained funding for public safety. He reduced the government workforce by 668 full-time employees as he decreased department budgets by 10 percent to 15 percent, resulting in some $59.2 million in cuts.
“Today I can confidently say that the State of Metro is strong, and our prospects for the future are even better,” Dean said, “Not by chance, not by luck, but because of the strategic decisions we’ve made to cut where we needed to cut, invest where we needed to invest and not let financial pressures sway our commitment to the things that matter most – the three things I talk about all the time – education, public safety and economic development.”