METRO NASHVILLE BUDGET - June 2020
Nashville is in a severe budget crisis, partly due to the COVID lockdown but mainly due to the failure of previous administrations to raise the tax rate – the LOWEST tax rate Metro has ever had! Metro departments and schools have had cutbacks for years. We are struggling to pay for basic government services, including schools, police, fire department, and 911 call-takers.
Mayor Cooper proposed a $1 increase in our tax rate, but even with this, there will be deep budget cuts, with no raises or cost-of-living adjustments again for city employees, and many key programs cut in half. Council Member At-Large Bob Mendes is the Chair of the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee and he has developed a substitute budget with a $1.066 tax increase that provides:
- $15/hr for all school employees, $12.5M in additional school funding
- Cost-of-living increases for thousands of public workers
- Implementing police body cams; Does not increase police department funding [Note: During debate, other Council Members added $2.6 million for 48 recruits.]
- Summer youth employment; Opening community centers on Saturday mornings, and more.
(Bob’s comparison of his budget and the Mayor’s budget is HERE.)
Downtown developers have benefitted greatly from Nashville’s past growth and need to pay more to deal with the problems of growth. A higher tax rate will cause homeowners to pay slightly more — but will generate much more from commercial property owners, since they pay on 40% of their appraised value and residential owners pay on only 25% of assessed value.
NOAH members voted to support a budget with a substantial property tax increase if it includes:
- Funding for the Barnes Affordable Housing Fund,
- More property tax relief for seniors and other low-income homeowners,
- Adequate funding for Metro Nashville Public Schools, and
- A moral budget maintaining current levels of employment and services.
(A PDF of NOAH’s full statement on the budget is HERE.)
After we agreed on our statement, Bob Mendes came forth with his proposal for a $1.066 tax increase. This proposal seems to meet NOAH's criteria better than the others and to simply be more equitable. Comparison of his budget option and the Mayor's budget is HERE.
Is There Property Tax Help for Senior Low-Income Homeowners?
If property taxes go up, Metro has two property tax assistance programs for elderly and disabled low-income homeowners:
- Tax Relief Program - Income cannot exceed $29,860 for the 2018 calendar year. Program gives reimbursements of some of property taxes to senior homeowners.
- Tax Freeze Program - Total income of all owners of the property during 2018 cannot exceed $42,620. Property taxes are frozen at previous year’s rate. (More info HERE.)
- More info on programs is at https://www.nashville.gov/Trustee/General-Property-Tax-Questions.aspx (Scroll down)
- The deadline to renew or apply for Tax Relief and Tax Freeze has been extended to Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
- Call the Metro Trustee to apply or ask questions (615-862-6330). If you leave a message, they WILL call you back!