Metro Budget Hearings Under Way In Nashville - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Metro Budget Hearings Under Way In Nashville

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tuesday kicked off days of budget hearings where someone from every Metro department must explain what they need to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, but not everyone has to make the required two-percent cut.

Mayor Dean started off by explaining they have to decide what's important.

"We will not be asking for additional revenue this year to help cover budget needs. We will not be proposing. We will not be proposing an additional property tax increase," Dean said.

"We had to learn how to do more with less," Dean explained Tuesday on how lessons from the Great Recession translate into budget choices today.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, which wasn't forced to trim two-percent of its budget, asked for an extra $4-million. Chief Steve Anderson said it is partly to open a new "Midtown Hills" precinct lot next year, as well as a new crime lab that could put them years ahead of other departments.

"A law enforcement agency of our size that doesn't have its own capabilities to test and submit DNA samples would be like a police department today that did not do fingerprints," Chief Anderson said.

The lab could run DNA tests for 1,000 cases a year, versus only 20 now that have to go through the state.

"With a staff of three analysts that can devote their time to crimes committed in our neighborhoods we will be able to turn cases around more efficiently," added Tabitha Bandy with the Metro Police DNA Unit.

Then the Nashville Fire Department got its turn explaining how restructuring has reduced management, while expanding the number of ambulances and fire halls.

The Davidson County Sheriff's Office also presented their budget, saying they want to add a second mobile booking vehicle to give police more downtown after arrests.

They also need more staff for projected increases in the jail population, but pointed out a program letting employees begin taking their pensions, while still working part time, has saved roughly $1 million.

Hearings continue through the afternoon, and throughout the week.

After the last presentation by the Board of Education April 12, Mayor Dean is expected to present his final budget in May.

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