Nashville mayor making case for property tax increase - WSMV Channel 4

Nashville mayor making case for property tax increase

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

While the mayor continues to make the case for a property tax increase, one taxpayer watchdog group said it isn't necessary, and they said they have the proof to back up those claims.

The group put out a four-page brief today outlining how the mayor can maintain public services, keep police on the streets and even give employees a 4 percent raise without that $100 million property tax increase.

Mayor Karl Dean was in southeast Nashville today looking at schools like Norman Binkley Elementary. It's so overcrowded, the school needs 11 portable classrooms.

"Our school has just been exploding with children and there's just a need," parent Rosemary Woolsey said.

Adding capacity at Norman Binkley Elementary is just part of the mayor's $100 million capital plan to expand and renovate several Metro schools.

It's one of the reasons Dean believes the 53-cent property tax increase is necessary.

"People are moving into Davidson County, particularly the southeast area of the county, and we need to have the infrastructure there to keep it an attractive place for kids to get the education they need," Dean said.

Opponents of the property tax hike have now come up with a plan of their own that doesn't call for a tax increase.

They said the mayor's claim that voting against a property tax increase will take police off the streets is bogus.

"Claiming that we're going to yank police officers off the street and that we can't fund our safety is a red herring because we've shown you can balance the budget without a tax increase and not take a single police office off the streets," said Justin Owen of the Beacon Center of Tennessee.

Here's what their proposal keeps: it maintains the current funding for public works, the library and parks. It even keeps the 4 percent employee raise.

It cuts the increase to education and all of Metro's subsidies to private entities and the big one, Metro General Hospital.

"We as taxpayers spend about $43 million a year on this hospital," Owen said. "It's half full and Nashville is a health care mecca. We can turn that over to the private sector and save that money."

Owen said the group will present copies of the brief to Metro Council members in order for them to craft an alternative budget.

Meanwhile other tax opponents are starting to put out yard signs and send mailers to residents to rally support against the increase.

There will be a public hearing on the budget on June 5.

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