Metro Council believes ballot item could save taxpayers millions of dollars

Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 7:30 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Early voting for the Davidson County General Election begins on Friday. Metro Council members said one item on the ballot could save taxpayers millions of dollars.

The Davidson County Election Commission said the ballot this election is the longest in Metro’s history. On it are four proposed charter amendments. It’s a term many may not have heard, but it’s almost half the ballot.

Metro Council members said there’s one with big money impact.

The Metro Charter is what many call the city’s constitution. It lays out how the city runs.

Metro Council members said it also costs taxpayers a million dollars a year to defend.

“We’re now several years into constant litigation into how those rules work,” Metro Council At-Large member Bob Mendes said.

It’s litigation that costs money.

For example, the city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2021 surrounding a legal battle over an anti-tax referendum. Metro Council members like Mendes said the language needs to be clarified.

“It may be boring what our governing document, or constitution said, but it’s important and it is costing taxpayers money,” Mendes said.

The proposed Charter Amendment One would require 10% of all registered voters to sign a petition to put a charter amendment on the ballot. Currently it requires 10% of all those who voted in the previous general election to do so.

Those numbers concern voters like Murray Phillip.

“Obviously our city leaders think our voters are going to reach a point where they’ve had enough and they want to make sure that we don’t have an opportunity to do anything about it,” he said.

He said needing more people to sign a petition makes it difficult to hold officials accountable. Mendes hopes people will think of the future and ratify this amendment.

“Constitutions are not supposed to change every day,” Mendes said. “They are supposed to last a while. The changes we made 50 years ago, good job. Hopefully the changes we make now will be another 50 years.”

There are three other proposed Charter amendments on the ballot this election.

The second proposed charter amendment changes physical qualifications for Metro Nashville Police officers.

“For the past 60 years, new officers have had to meet the same physical requirements as those required by the U.S. military,” Metro Police Chief John Drake said. “If a person is not tall enough, according to military standards, is heavier than the Army or Navy allows, or had a childhood history of asthma, they must seek a medical waiver from the Civil Service Commission to remain in our hiring process.”

The third proposed charter amendment clarifies duties of the Metro Board of Health and takes away the requirement for the Metro Public Health Director to be a doctor.

The fourth proposed charter amendment officially creates the Nashville Department of Transportation that was started last year.

With it being August, council members expect a low voter turnout this election cycle. They want to remind people early voting is an option and to work it into their schedule.

Early voting begins Friday and ends Saturday, July 30.

If you want to vote in the August elections, the deadline to register has passed.

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