Monday, March 1, 2021

The Davidson County Election Commission spent $214,000 to keep the the Nashville Taxpayers Protection Act off the ballot.

by Rod Williams - The Davidson County Election Commission spend more than $214,000 in 2020, to keep the Nashville Taxpayers Protection Act off the ballot. The Commission hired Bill Koch, a former Tennessee Supreme Court justice, to make their case before Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle, who ruled that the proposed referendum was “facially unconstitutional.” Instead of using Metro legal for this purpose the Commission hired Koch on a no-bid contract.

Since then, the anti-tax measure has been reworded to address the concerns of the court, yet still accomplishes the same thing. The measure would revert the property tax rate to its 2019 levels before the 34 percent increase. Other things it would do are these:
  • Hold property tax increases to 3% per year
  • Make it easier to remove Metro officials by reducing the number of signatures needed to force a recall election. 
  • Abolish lifetime health insurance benefits for Metro Council members and other elected officials. 
  • Preserve voter-approved charter amendments by changing the charter itself to say those amendments could only be repealed by future voter referendums. 
  • Make it harder to give away Metro property by requiring 31 Metro Council votes to approve land conveyances instead of the current requirement of 21 votes. 
  • Revert pro sports stadiums and the surrounding developments back to taxpayers in the event a team leaves town or fails to play in its venue for 24 straight months.
Currently the sponsor of the anti-tax measure is gathering signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The last effort generated over 21,000 signatures, which was more signatures than needed. This time, the bar is higher. More than 32,000 good signatures are needed. Copies of the petition have been mailed to voters to sign and return. Time is running out. All petitions must be returned by March 5th. 

If you have a petition and have not signed and returned it. Please do so now. Do it today! 

Despite making the changes necessary to satisfy the court, if enough signatures are gathered to get the petition on the ballot, we will likely see the Commission make new arguments to try to keep the proposal off the ballot. A spokesman for Mayor John Cooper has indicated such would be the case. Metro charter experts allege that the renewed proposal remains legally flawed. I am not an attorney but I have spoken to Jim Roberts who is behind the proposal effort and he has assured me, the new language satisfies every objection of the Court. Also the new proposal is severable, meaning if one part of the proposal is ruled invalid the other provisions are not automatically thrown out. 

For more on this issue and source material see link, link, and link

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