Final State of Metro Address Says Education, Safety, Jobs Will Always Be Nashville's Top Priorities
Mayor Dean gave the speech in Nashville Public Library's Grand Reading Room, the same location as his first State of Metro address in 2008, to emphasize that "education and learning must always come first."
"Education is what our city has to focus on first and foremost if we want to keep growing and getting better," Mayor Dean said. "Education is the key that will open the door of opportunity for our children, and it's the key for Nashville."
Throughout his eight years in office and his two campaigns, Mayor Dean has made the case that education, public safety and economic development are the "three pitches" the city has to hit consistently. In today's speech, he said that will always be true.
"These three priorities are really one priority, woven tightly together in a fabric of civic fortune, and it never changes, no matter who the mayor is," he said.
Mayor Dean, who thanked the Metro Council, Gov. Bill Haslam and former Mayor and former Gov. Phil Bredesen for working with him on key initiatives, also laid out the principles he's governed by since 2007. Those principles include making strategic investments, based on the city's priorities, to inspire private investment; spending capital dollars "broadly but wisely" in neighborhoods throughout Nashville; boldly embracing new ideas and tackling tough issues; and leaving the city in better shape financially than when he took office.
Speaking almost five years to the day after the devastating 2010 flood, he said public-private partnerships, collaborations and what he called "the spirit of Nashville: neighbors helping neighbors - and helping strangers" have been critical to the city's success.
"I appreciate the citizens of Nashville for giving me this opportunity to serve and lead. The state of our city is very good, and we've accomplished a lot together over these past eight years. But we can't afford to take our eye off the ball and stop hitting those three pitches. This is Nashville's time, and we have to lean into it and give it everything we have so we can live the future we see: a city on a hill, a city of opportunity," he said.
During the address, Mayor Dean announced his proposed operating budget would include the following:
- Operating funds for Metro Schools to make all the improvements the district's leadership has identified.
- Funds for employee compensation so that all Metro employees would receive a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise, while the city also would provide increment pay for eligible employees; appropriate increases for those not eligible for increment pay; and funds for public safety employees who face salary compression issues.
- $131 million for Metro Schools, including funds to renovate Overton High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School; build a new elementary school in Cane Ridge; planning funds to begin the process of moving Hillwood High School to Bellevue, and planning funds for the future of Hillsboro High School and Nashville School of the Arts.
- $149 million to relocate the Criminal Justice Center, plus additional funds to build a new Family Justice Center, which would provide critical services to crime victims and their families in times of need.
- $25 million for sidewalks. Approval of the plan would bring Mayor Dean's capital spending on sidewalks over the past eight years to $82 million, more than any other administration has spent on sidewalk construction in Metro history.
- $2 million to help Nashville State Community College build two new satellite campuses in Donelson and Madison.
An annual State of Metro address by Nashville's mayor has been mandated by the city's charter since Metro Government was established in 1963.
Twelve-time Grammy-nominated artist Dierks Bentley was the special musical guest at the hour-long event. Bentley's critically acclaimed and No. 1 selling album, Riser, has already produced three No. 1 hits: "I Hold On," "Drunk on a Plane" and "Say You Do." His six previous studio albums have sold more than five million copies and notched 13 chart-topping singles. Bentley will be kicking off his headlining summer tour on June 5. For more information visit www.dierks.com.
Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay, Nashville's first Youth Poet Laureate, read her poem "The City That Never Stops Giving," which celebrates the bustling Nashville that converges at 6th Avenue and Broadway, capturing the unique elements that make us feel both alive and at home in our city. Mukhopadhyay is a junior at Hume-Fogg Magnet High School. Born in India and raised in Nashville, the young poet, singer, and songwriter is heavily influenced by her vibrant roots and her Western upbringing. She has won competitions in writing, visual art, and film. She plays guitar, fiddle, piano, ukulele and mandolin.