Nashville Mayor John Cooper
 

Nashville Mayor John Cooper delivers the State of Metro speech. (Photo: Michael W. Bunch/Metro Photographer)

 

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Mayor John Cooper released his proposed budget for the 2021 fiscal year, which includes plans to increase property taxes in Davidson County.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cooper released what he called a "crisis budget – not a discretionary budget."

The $2.447 billion budget has a rate increase of 32 percent, bringing the property tax rate to $4.15. That means a home valued at $300,000 would see an increase of about $750 in property taxes.  

Cooper said if they don't increase property taxes, the city would be forced to do mass layoffs.

“Thousands of residents have lost their jobs during the pandemic, and that makes the necessary decision to raise taxes all the more difficult. And as I mentioned during the State of Metro address, the city has thinned its cash reserves to a point where we find ourselves without a rainy-day fund during a stormy season," Cooper said. 

The proposed property tax increase for the 2021 fiscal year comes on the heels of the March Tornadoes.

Nashville hasn't had a hike in several years and the property taxes are currently at a historic low. A move to increase property taxes last year was voted down, which would have gone toward teacher raises.

“If any council members don’t want to approve this let us know and we will have to begin mass layoffs,” Cooper said.

It’s expected that the mayor’s budget does not include "a full deployment of body cameras, affordable housing, transportation, social and emotional learning," Cooper said.

“Nashville’s growth will return once again, our economy will flourish as it did before the storm, and we will not lose sight of the good work we’ve set out to do on behalf of all Nashvillians,” Cooper said.

The mayor also pointed out, if the budget is approved as is, Nashville’s rate still be the lowest of the four big Tennessee cities.

President of SEIU Local 205 Brad Rayson said it is "an unprecedented and difficult year, for too many Metro employees."

"It is important for everyone to understand that before the crisis hit, our vital city services were already stretched thin. Most departments haven’t recovered from cuts made during the last recession. Our city has failed to match the growth we’ve experienced with the necessary investments in our schools and public services. The cost of living in Nashville has risen faster than workers salaries. Many of the people who keep the city running were struggling to afford to live in the city before Covid-19 hit. We appreciate Mayor Cooper’s work to find additional revenues in the budget and his decision to address the underlying structural revenue problem caused by the historically low property tax rate. We look forward to working with Metro Council to create a budget that works for everyone in this trying time," Rayson said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Nashville Council Member Freddie O’Connell tweeted on Tuesday afternoon and called this budget a tough fiscal moment in Metro Nashville history.

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