A plan promoted by the Mayor David Briley administration earlier this year proposed adding more parking meters to Nashville city streets, mostly in the Gulch, SoBro, east Nashville, and downtown.

The meters would cost more per hour and they would no longer be free on Sundays or at night.

One of the most controversial aspects of the plan was that Metro would contract with a private company who would control the meters in exchange for paying the city $30 million up front.

Briley initially said that money was critical to balancing the budget and giving teachers a pay raise.

The plan got so much negative feedback, Briley announced he would press pause till after the election.

The first question News 4 posed to four leading mayoral candidates: "Should Nashville's public parking be privatized?"

Mayoral candidates no

Mayor David Briley surprisingly checked “no.”

In a follow-up interview, News4’s Nancy Amons asked Briley why he said no, when this was his own plan.

“Nashville is behind the rest of the country and the world in fact in terms of managing our on-street parking.  I don’t think we need to privatize but I think we need to integrate technology into how we manage that parking, both so we collect more money for the taxpayers and we make it easier for people parking downtown to find a space.  That’s why I’ve proposed the arrangement I have proposed, that we would have a private partner that helps us manage the on-street parking resulting in more money, better technology and better parking for everyone who lives, works and plays in downtown.

“Isn’t that privatizing?” Amons asked.

“Not in my mind, no it’s not. So, for example, every time we buy a computer, we’re licensing software from Microsoft. This is a very similar set of circumstances,” Briley said.

John Ray Clemmons checked "no."

"I have been a consistent opponent to privatization deals. I lead the effort at the state level to oppose the privatization of our state parks. I opposed private prisons. And I fought against the outsourcing of jobs at colleges and universities,"  Clemmons said.

John Cooper checked "no."

"The public is uniform in hating this deal. And the fact that it's still going on may be the chief reason why I should be mayor.  Because the mayor needs to put a stop to what is bad public policy. It's bad to sell the public right-of-way, right downtown, when you need it the most, and for money that's not an appropriate investment back into the city," he said.

Carol Swain checked "no."

"In Nashville, if we want to upgrade the parking meters, we can upgrade the parking meters, but that we should never be selling off city assets to cover short-term expenses,"  she said. 

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Nancy Amons is an award-winning member of the News4 Investigates team. She has been breaking stories in Middle Tennessee for more than 20 years.

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