Nashville, TN (WSMV) – Mayor-Elect John Cooper will inherit a significant budget hole when he is sworn-in September 28th. The city recognizes the hole could be about $34 million.
In a letter to the state Comptroller Friday, the city’s Finance Director, Talia Lomax-O’dneal, detailed two plans for the sale of assets –including property and parking rights—which would net the city an estimated $41.5 million during the 2020 budget year.
In the letter, she writes how the new administration should proceed if the plans fail: reduce operating costs, move money from other funds, consider increases from other revenue sources or do a combination of all three.
"The incoming Administration will need to decide which of these options to pursue should one or both of these projects not move forward," writes Lomax-O’dneal in the letter.
The two projects she details in the letter are a plan to privatize parking and the sale of Metro District Energy System (DES).
The plan to sell Nashville’s on-street metered parking program would net the city a large portion of the income – at $34 million in 2020. The controversial plan was put on hold by Mayor David Briley until after the election. But his loss in the run-off to John Cooper means the plan likely will not go through.
“There’s not a single council member that I’m aware of that planned to vote for it,” said Cooper on the day after his win.
The sale of DES would net the city an expected $11.5 million and, based on the letter from the finance director, appears to be further along in negotiations.
Lomax-O’dneal’s letter comes in response to a letter from the state Comptroller, issued August 7th expressing concern for the city making –what appeared to be—long-term plans for money that will only come into the budget in 2020.
"When you do that, you're not guaranteed that sort of revenue year after year. This is a one-time transaction, but yet you have to pay for things every year," said John Dunn, spokesman for the Comptroller's office.
Loma-O’dneal’s response Friday appeared to show confidence in the city’s ability to come out ahead.
"It should also be noted that in the normal course of budget planning and monitoring, the city is required to adapt quickly to changing fiscal conditions, as it has done successfully in recent years,” Lomax-O’dneal writes.
Read the full letter from Nashville's director of finance below: