Wednesday, June 19, 2019

No TAX Hike! Metro Council fails to pass substitute budget with a property tax hike

I am surprised. I was almost certain one of the three proposed tax increase budgets would pass. I was favoring the Glover substitute, because it raised taxes the least. My support was simply a pragmatic calculating. I prefer a no tax increase budget but did not think one could pass. Looking at the make up of the Council, knowing of Metro's dire financial situation, perceiving the mayor to be weak, and looking at the number of Council members in either safe seats or not seeking reelection, I thought  the Council was almost certain to pass a tax increase of some amount. That shows you how much I know. I miscalculated. I was wrong, but I am not disappointed. I am pleased the no tax increase budget passed.

Going into tonight meeting there was three proposed substitute budget proposals, so the council had four options to consider, the three substitute options each of which raised taxes and then the mayors budget which did not. The process involved considering the budget presented by Council member Vercher. Her budget proposal was the recommendation of the Budget and Finance Committee and would have raised taxes the most. After her budget was introduced, then there were attempts to amend her proposal with first one and then the other alternatives. Both attempts failed, so then the Council was faced choosing Vercher's bill, which would raise taxes more than the two rejected alternatives, or the mayor's no-tax-increase budget. Vercher's proposal failed by only one vote.

Metro's new budget is $2.33 billion with revenue increases of $101 million but about $44 million will go to rising debt obligations. Debt obligations have to be paid. Not paying our debts in not an option. It provides a $28.2 million increase for Metro Schools and a 3% pay increase for school employees.

I am posting this with some still unanswered questions.  Budget's are required to balance; revenues have to equal expenditure.  Briley calculated  income from the proposed parking privatization deal as the source of  $17 million for this year's budget. With the parking deal put on hold, I do not know how they filled that hole. Most likely reserves were permitted to dip, but I don't know that.

For more on Metro's budget here are some resources.

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