Monday, January 25, 2021

Metro Leadership Believes Everything They Do Is Essential

BY JASON EDMONDS, The Beacon Center - As Mayor Cooper and the Metro Council continue to enforce restrictions on the citizens and businesses in Nashville, they, unfortunately, don’t seem to have any restrictions on their use of tax dollars. 
The COVID-related restrictions, from the Mayor, put many Nashvillians out of work and businesses have been forced to limit operations or, even worse, shut down completely. On top of that, when faced with a self-imposed budget crisis, Nashville’s leadership decided it wasn’t the time to try and cut some spending but pass a 34% property tax increase on the workers and businesses already struggling. Nashville’s mayor claimed that without the tax increase, essential government functions would be cut.  

Well, it seems “essential government functions” is a pretty broad category to Mayor Cooper. Last month alone, Cooper and the council approved millions in projects and created a “wishlist” for others. The projects include: 
  1. $13.8 million for riverfront improvements 
  2. Potential upgrades to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway 
  3. Discussing upgrades and creating a new neighborhood around Nissan Stadium 
  4. Approving a $1.6 billion transit plan 
While Metro will claim only some businesses are essential, it seems they think everything they do is essential. The biggest expense of them all – the $1.6 billion transit plan – was passed by the council without a clear timeline or financial backing. Several council members lamented the lack of details surrounding the plan, with one calling the proposed funding nothing but “smoke and mirrors.” With most of the plan’s funding reliant upon massive grants from the federal and state government without any current commitment of funds, the plan resembles something straight out of the Obamacare playbook—except this time we have to pass the plan in order to find a way to fund the plan.  

It is hard enough for citizens of Nashville to be slapped with a 34% tax increase while so many are struggling to make ends meet. It’s a slap in the face to Nashville taxpayers to have Metro leadership going on a spending spree and planning out even bigger purchases while saying the tax increase was needed for essential government services. If NASCAR and the NFL are considered essential government services, the Metro Government should hit the brakes on their spending habits instead of throwing Hail Marys for federal dollars.  

Heading into 2021, let’s hope Metro leadership can make a New Year’s resolution to respect the Nashville taxpayer and see that every Nashvillian is essential.

Jason Edmonds is a research assistant with The Beacon Center.

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