Study Could Examine Size Of Metro Council And Compensation - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Study Could Examine Size Of Metro Council And Compensation

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By Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Metropolitan Nashville Council voted for the first time Tuesday night for a bill that would examine the economics of the governing body.

BL2013-360 is an ordinance that would allow a study of the compensation of elected officials in Nashville government.

This bill comes after questions were raised in late 2012 about health benefits for council members.

The bill introduce Tuesday night would take a broad look at the money it takes to operate the Metro Council.

"You can't talk about the cost of Metro Council unless you talk about the size. It's one of the biggest in the nation," said sponsoring council member Emily Evans.

Nashville has the third largest council in the Nashville, behind two cities with much larger populations.

New York City has 8.2 million residents and 51 council members. Los Angeles has 3.8 million residents that are governed by 15 council members. Chicago's population is 2.7 million and has 50 alderman. Houston has a population of 2.1 million, with 14 council members. Nashville, with a population of 626,000 has 50 council members.

NewsChannel 5 political analyst Pat Nolan said the original Metro Charter called for a much smaller council and residents voted down the idea.

"And one of the things that came back was we'd like to have a larger council, we'd like to be able to know our member a little bit better," Nolan said.

Nolan said having a smaller council does not necessarily mean the city would save money.

"Depending on how you balance it out you could wind up with a more expensive council, even it's a smaller one, just because they'd have to have staff and benefits and full-time salary," according to Nolan.

He also said most of the time a larger council provides more checks and balances for proposals from the mayor.

"You make it smaller, in some ways you make it easier for a mayor to get the votes that he needs, at least in terms of the numbers," Nolan said.

The size of Metro Council would just be one aspect of the proposed study. It would also look at the affect term limits have had on the city.

"Term limits, as it turns out, have been pretty expensive for the people of Nashville. Because we refill the bench every eight years," Evans said.

The main focus of the study would be on the compensation of elected officials and the benefits they receive.

The bill passed on first reading and will be deferred for sometime.

If it is approved the results of the study would not be available until late 2014. The cost of the study would be rolled into another study and should not cost the city any extra money.


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