Metro Council meeting on new schools budget highlighted by emotional employee testimonies

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 8:02 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Nashville mayor’s budget proposal will face another vote before it receives final approval and dozens of Nashvillians voiced their input on Tuesday night.

The nearly 5-hour Metro Council meeting adjourned after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, with nearly two hours taken up by public comment. Story after story of Metro employees struggling to make ends meet in an increasingly expensive city were told.

As it stands, the nearly $3 billion budget includes a fully funded school budget, affordable housing, cost-of-living increases for Metro employees and additional funding for the Department of Transportation.

Several librarians stepped up to the mic on Tuesday night to ask for $6.5 million more for the Metro employee pay plan and a 5% cost of living adjustment.

“I’m a native Tennessean and have lived in Nashville for the past 9 years,” said one woman. “Nashville is my home and I hope to spend the rest of my life here as a public servant, unfortunately, the material conditions that I live in and economic reality that the people of this city face have forced Metro employees, including myself, to weigh our love and passion of the city against our own survival and well-being…I myself do not know how much longer I can afford to live in the city that I love.”

The public portion of the meeting saw a lot of raw and vulnerable moments as people opened up to the council about how much they make, and how much they are struggling to live comfortably as a result.

A 20-year employee of Metro schools talked about her education, experience, and dedication to the job before disclosing she makes less than 20 dollars per hour…then quit her job.

“I want each and every one of you to look me in my face and in my child’s eyes and tell her how is that fair,” the woman said. “20 years of dedication and I have to walk away from the job that I love because I cannot financially afford to stay an employee with Metro Nashville Public Schools…I am here resigning from my position in front of all of you.”

The Metro schools budget faces a final vote in two weeks.

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