Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Rejecting tax increase, depleting savings could be 'catastrophic' for Nashville, comptroller says

The Tennessean- The state comptroller on Monday said Nashville Mayor John Cooper's budget, which includes a 32% property tax increase and a steep investment in savings, would pull the city back from the brink of a financial crisis.

Rejecting the mayor's proposal in favor of one that relies on borrowing and depletes Nashville's small funding reserves could be "catastrophic" and might result in a state takeover, State Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a letter to council members. (Read more)

Rod's Comment:  I am disappointed that Comptroller Justin Wilson has essentially endorsed Mayor Coopers call for a 32% property tax increase.  I do agree we should not try to balance the budget by borrowing money and depleting out reserve funds.  However, there is the option of cutting spending. 

I would start by having no budget increase. The $2.45 billion FY 2021 budget for the Metropolitan Government’s represents a 4.97% increase from the FY 2020 budget. I would make the baseline the 2020 budget and save 4.97%.  I would suspend the recycling program. It cost us an additional $1.5 million a year over last year and once separated, most recyclables ends up in the landfill anyway.  It makes people feel virtuous but accomplishes little.

I would close General Hospital and save about $50 million a year.  We are not required to have a charity hospital, ever since Medicaid poor people have had other options, some cities do not have charity hospitals, and it can't fill its beds.  It is a waste of money and is simply maintained to boost the collective ego of the Black community. 

I would abolish the Human Relations Commission.  This would not save much but this is an example of an unneeded agency. The good things they do, such as sponsoring the Festival of Nations, could be done by a non-profit. Discrimination complaints could be received by any number of other agencies. They exist primarily to promote political correctness.  We do not need an agency to sponsor the twink booth at the Gay Pride Festival.  I would suspend funding for the arts and non-profits until the economy recovers.

 I would suspend the sidewalk program until we figure out why it spends millions and builds no new sidewalks. I would apply a modest across the board cut to all agencies except police and fire. Then, if this did not balance the budget I would close underused libraries or cut library hours or days to complete the task.  Once the economy is restored we can restore those cuts that deserve to be restored.

This is just my proposal off the top of my head.  I have not put a calculator to it, but I am certain the budget could be balanced without a tax increase.  These are hard times.  We do not want to destroy what little affordable housing still exist and add a burden to people already burdened.  When the economy recovers, the revenue will again flow into the coffers.  It won't hurt us to tighten our belt during these hard times.

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