NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — The Metro Nashville Council voted in favor of a new budget in another marathon meeting, and with the new budget comes a 34 percent property tax increase.
Council members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the budget by Budget Chair and Council Member Bob Mendes. The budget passed 32-8 after a debate that started Tuesday night and lasted five and half hours until early Wednesday.
The new budget will go into effect in July
Mayor John Cooper praised the budget, which was a replacement to his proposed budget.
The budget will raise property taxes $1.006 per $100 of the property's assessed value.
The tax increase will help fund a 1 percent cost-of-living raise to city employees, along with $7.6 million in additional funding for Metro Nashville Public Schools. Another $4.9 million goes to raising the minimum wage for MNPS employees to $15 per hour.
"Nashville just took a huge step forward joining cities around the country who recognize that paying a $15/hour minimum wage is not a radical idea, but a moral imperative. Over 1500 Metro Schools employees are now better able to keep up with the rising cost of living in our city and provide a better life for themselves and their families. We thank Councilman Mendes for making this a priority of his budget, and all the courageous Council Members who did the right thing in this difficult moment. While we don't agree with everything in this budget, we commend all who resisted the calls for layoffs and instead chose to lead our city out of difficult economic conditions rather than make them worse." - SEIU Local 205
The budget also increases the budget for the Metro Nashville Police Department $2.6 million against the objection of several council members and protesters who have been calling for defunding the city's police department. The department said the increase in police funding will go to hire more recruits. It also includes $2.1 million for a full deployment of body-worn cameras and $229,000 to hire a Chief Diversity Officer and a Workforce Diversity Manager.
“Undoubtedly, we would all prefer to make incremental investments in our common priorities -- education, transportation, employee compensation, and affordable housing. The opportunity to make these investments will come once we get beyond this crisis budget and as a result of this budget," Mayor Cooper said. "“A combination of deep cuts, a painful but necessary property tax increase, and replenished fund balance will safely see our community through to the other side of the coronavirus and the most serious budget crisis in Nashville’s history.”
The meeting ended after nearly 10 hours at 4:15 a.m., making it the second longest meeting in council history just two weeks after the longest meeting logged in at almost 11 hours.
The next meeting is set for July 7.
The budget passage received criticism from the Beacon Center and Nashville People's Budget Coalition: