Mayor: Fairgrounds Plan Could Lead To Property Tax Increase
by Scott Arnold
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said a plan to save the state fairgrounds in Davidson County could lead to a property tax increase.
Metro Council is scheduled to vote on two key bills on Tuesday. One is to lease the Hickory Hollow Mall and move many of the events from the state fairgrounds. The other is the second vote on keeping things the same at the fairgrounds.
Council Member Duane Dominy has proposed a bill that would keep everything the same at the fairgrounds. That would mean the state fair, the events, and the race track would stay put.
But Mayor Dean said the bill would likely mean a property tax increase for Davidson County residents.
"We have slowly eaten through the reserves that are set aside for the fair. If you pass a piece of legislation like this that requires the fair, how are you going to pay for it? Are you going to use money from the general fund, money that should be going for schools, police, fire and parks to pay for it? I don't think so," said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.
In fact, a council analysis of the bill found that "this ordinance does not provide a mechanism for funding these fairgrounds operations in the event the revenues generated by the facilities are insufficient to cover the expenses."
The Mayor has caused a stir for his plans to end the state fairs run there, move other events to Hickory Hollow Mall, and close the track, all in favor of redeveloping the land to bring in new business, and create a 40-acre park.
Councilman Michael Craddock believes the Mayor is trying to scare people with the property tax issue, and is critical of the plan to move events to the old Dillard's store at Hickory Hollow. Craddock said the city could end up paying $9 million over four years, for a building that doesn't cost half has much.
"We're going to spend nine or ten million dollars on a building they want three and a half million for, that's not even common sense," said Councilman Craddock.
"But why don't we spend a little money on the fairgrounds, and improve it, and make it the expo center that it can be, and leave it there," added Craddock.
Dean believes there's wiggle room on the Hickory Hollow lease agreement, and believes critics are missing the point.
"What they don't discuss when they talk about the fairgrounds is this, but by doing nothing, it's a huge lost opportunity for the city, we have identified through studies that we can create thousands of jobs," said Dean.
On Tuesday, the Council for the first time will vote on that Hickory Hollow lease agreement. Also, members could vote a second time on keeping things the same at the fairgrounds. If it passes, members would have to pass it one more time for it to become law.
Folks against Mayor Dean's plan will hold a rally outside council chambers beginning at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.