Dean faces opposition to proposed tax increase - WSMV News 4

Dean faces opposition to proposed tax increase

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Mayor Karl Dean is making his case for a property tax increase, but he is seeing strong opposition from some Davidson County residents.

The Metro Council has a difficult choice to make whether to approve the proposal, but tea party groups and taxpayer watchdogs aren't buying the mayor's case for an increase.

Appearing Wednesday morning on Channel 4 News Today, Dean once again made his case for the property tax increase.

"If we don't do a property tax increase, we're talking about 20 percent reductions for all departments," Dean said. "And I've protected public schools and public safety since I became mayor, but we couldn't do it if we don't have a tax increase."

Metro's current property tax rate in the urban services district is 4.13. It's 3.56 in the general services district.

Dean's proposed increase of 53 cents would bring it to 4.66 in the USD and 4.09 in the GSD.

Compared to other large Tennessee cities, those rates would still be lowest. For example, Memphis residents shell out a rate of 7.21 cents.

However, Nashville residents would continue to pay more than most of the large Middle Tennessee communities, including Clarksville, at 4.38 cents.

Ken Marrero, Hermitage resident and conservative blogger, said he is not buying the argument for higher taxes and thinks the mayor needs to reach out to tea party groups to hear their concerns.

"Is he going to ram this down our throats and force this on us? Or is he going to enter into a dialogue for us? And are we, the people who are actually going to pay this bill, getting input into this, that and the other that he wants to buy with that money?" Marrero said.

Taxpayer watchdogs said there are plenty of areas that Metro could cut without having to touch police and teachers.

"Holding hostage the most important parts of local government is just a political ploy," said Justin Owen, with the Beacon Center of TN. "It's a way for the mayor to pass the buck to homeowners and small businesses."

The biggest concern many people seem to have with the budget proposal is that the mayor wants people to pay more in taxes to give employees a 4 percent raise.

Dean said it's the right thing to do and acknowledges the hard work of Metro employees.

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