It’s not uncommon for debates over the Metro Budget to last for several hours, sometimes into the early morning.
This year, in the wake of a pandemic year and a record property tax increase, things were different. The Metro Council on Tuesday passed a new $2.6 billion annual spending plan by voice vote, with limited debate.
Councilmembers and some community and labor groups praised the budget’s approval — for its investments in schools, Metro employees and police and fire, among other priorities. The $2.6 billion budget includes a tax rate slightly higher than the rate from before the pandemic.
“After a year of crisis, Nashville is finally entering an era of investment,” Mayor John Cooper said in a release. “And with this budget, we’re laying the foundation to build a city that truly works for everyone with historic investments in our schools, transportation, community safety and affordable housing. We’re making these essential investments with a tax rate that is more than a dollar less than our average rate over the past quarter century — the third-lowest in Metro history.”
But some in the community were not satiated. Activists with the Nashville People’s Budget Coalition interrupted the council meeting with protests, specifically over the new police spending. The Metro Council approved more than $10 million for a new police precinct in South Nashville, of which councilmembers in the area have been supportive.
Budget and Finance Committee Vice Chair Delishia Porterfield cites Chair Kyonzté Toombs’ leadership during the year for the smooth approval process.
“This is one of the most, if not the most, equitable budgets that we’ve had in recent history,” Porterfield said.
She cites new funding for schools and Metro workers, new firefighters and paramedics and expanded offerings at libraries and community centers. Her constituents in Southeast Nashville, she says, were strongly in favor of the new police precinct in the area.
The celebrations could be tempered in the coming days, as Davidson County Chancellor Russell Perkins is expected to rule this week whether a charter revision proposal hampering Nashville’s taxing abilities can go on the ballot next month. A coalition of civic, business and church leaders called Save Nashville is already campaigning against the measure, including with television ads.
“I think it’ll be devastating to the city,” Porterfield said of the proposed charter revision. “It will reverse all the work we’ve done and all the work we’re trying to do.”