Cooper outlines vision for Nashville during State of Metro address
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Mayor John Cooper spoke about his vision for the future of Nashville and unveiled his Agenda for Nashville Neighborhoods and Families to address the most critical issues facing city residents during his State of Metro Address on Wednesday.
“We’re here today at the Southeast Nashville Community Center because the Nashville we know and love, the Nashville we want to serve – and preserve – is a city rooted in our neighborhoods, and in our families,” Cooper said.
Cooper outlined his plan as part of the 59th State of Metro Address held at the Southeast Community Center in Antioch.
Cooper called the community center “the perfect backdrop to tell you about my agenda for Nashville Neighborhoods and Families, which is the heart of our work in the year ahead.”
The Mayor’s agenda has six core components, each of which include strategic investments made alongside the city’s growth to meet the new challenges facing a dynamic and rapidly growing Nashville. The six focus areas for the Mayor’s agenda are:
- investing in our children’s futures through education
- keeping Nashville’s streets and neighborhoods safe
- creating and preserving affordable housing
- addressing homelessness
- improving core services and transportation infrastructure
- becoming a greener, more sustainable city
“Good schools, clean streets, safe neighborhoods, reliable city services, affordable housing, world-class parks, live-work-play communities to raise a family in. That is Nashville. “Cooper said. “As we grow, we must do so in a way that works for every neighborhood, and make sure no one gets left behind. That requires investing alongside our growth and innovating to keep pace with the challenges presented by the growth. That is our vision.”
In each core focus area, Cooper made several new commitments and announced new investments and programs meant to drive real progress toward meaningfully addressing the biggest challenges facing the city. In keeping with tradition, the mayor also revealed his comprehensive budget proposal that contains hundreds of line items necessary to fund the Metro government for the next fiscal year. Below is a summary of the most significant new initiatives included in the Mayor’s agenda:
- For the second consecutive year, Cooper will propose a record investment in education, allocating $91.2 million in total new dollars for Metro Nashville Public Schools. As part of that funding, Cooper’s agenda will increase wages for Metro bus drivers, and for the first time ever, provide paid family leave to all Metro Nashville Education employees.
- Cooper’s agenda will significantly increase the number of first responders and police officers to bolster community safety on Nashville’s streets by adding 157 new emergency response personnel, including 46 more police officers, in addition to the 40 added last year, many of whom will staff the new 9th police precinct in Southeast Nashville slated to break ground early next year.
- Cooper has quintupled Metro’s rate of investment in building and preserving affordable housing since taking office, and created the city’s first Division of Housing with the Planning Department. Cooper’s agenda will also increase the total spend on affordable housing – a portion of which comes from the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress last year – which means in three years, his administration has allocated over $150 million for affordable housing – five times the rate of investment before he took office.
- Cooper is determined to drastically reduce homelessness over the course of the next three years and set Metro Nashville firmly on the path to making homelessness rare and brief. Cooper announced funding for nine new staffers for the Metro Homeless Impact Division, which the mayor has grown 92% over his past two budget. Cooper also announced a bold $50 million plan for homelessness using funds from the American Rescue Plan to confront the crisis. The plan represents an unprecedented effort by the Metro government to address homelessness in Nashville.
- The Agenda for Nashville Neighborhoods and Families includes a number of initiatives aimed at recommitting to the fundamentals of city government, including investing an additional $10 million in this year’s budget to increase the reliability of trash collection, add crews to repair our roads, and increase maintenance along roads, bikeways, and in alleyways – to sweep streets, clear brush, and keep trash out of our storm drains and groundwater.
- Creating a more sustainable, resilient city is a key piece of Cooper’s agenda, which includes his promise in February to formally adopt an ambitious community greenhouse gas emissions goal of 80% from 2014 levels by 2050. He is also creating the Office of Music, Film and Entertainment as a new division in the Mayor’s office to better support our creative class and protect the future of Music City.
When asked about affordable housing, Copper said he is proposing an increasing operating budget funding for housing to over $20 million annually and supplementing with another $30 from the American Rescue Plan.
“Well, they need to be able to afford to live in their home city, we need also robust wages and incomes to help them afford to live here,” Cooper told News4. “But in the meantime, the trick is to get these new units to be affordable. And to use the development process so that we’re serving the market that is here.”
And in the spirit of improving neighborhoods and families, the Mayor has not forgotten Nashville’s numerous trash issues.
“So the $10 million is allowing us, we’re going to be paying more to have more vendors. And if somebody has a route that they’re not delivering on then we’re going to be able to bring another vendor in and get that picked up,” Cooper told News4.
“It would make a huge impact because one visibility, having more officers out there,” Chief John Drake told News4 after being asked about the assistance for the MNPD officer shortage. “Putting the ninth precinct in the Antioch area. This is one of the fastest-growing areas in the south and t needs safety and the safety nets we can provide from that”
Watch Cooper’s State of Metro Address
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