Dean Vows to Protect Schools, Police Force - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Dean Vows to Protect Schools, Police Force

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mayor Karl Dean made his first State of Metro address Tuesday in the Downtown Public Library.

It was the city's 45th annual State of Metro address.

Dean said there would be no increases in property taxes this year. He also said there is money for a Metro DNA Crime Lab and Metro Schools will receive help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Like many counties, the budget is tight in Metro. More than 200 employees are losing their jobs, but Dean did not talk about job cuts.

The tone of his speech was positive.

The mayor stuck to his priorities - public education and safety. First, he announced he was funding a DNA crime lab at a cost of $1 million.

"I believe with our own DNA lab more criminal suspects will be identified and arrested, making our families safer," Dean said.

Afterward, he admitted Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas needed to sell him on the idea.

Right now, the TBI does the testing.

"I didn't immediately agree but over time and, you know, I think the election commission case, the recent arrest of the ‘Wooded Rapist' case underscores the need for it," Dean said.

Serpas wants to renovate the building now housing the Nashville Fire Department on First Avenue when the fire department moves to another facility.

Serpas said it would take up to 18 months to renovate and open the facility.

"It's going to be the greatest advancement we'll have in the police department in this generation," Serpas said.

Dean turned his attention to education.

He said Metro is one of two cities selected this year to participate in a national alternative high school program aimed at drop outs.

The program is partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"It's simple math. More kids graduating will have a huge economic impact on our city," he said.

To the surprise of many, Dean seemed to revive talk about a downtown baseball stadium as he spoke about tourists visiting downtown Nashville.

"And possibly in the distance they'll hear the crowd cheering an afternoon double header," he said.

The mayor talked about a tight budget. He said with the exception of education every department is expected to cut 5-10 percent. In some cases that means layoffs.

More than 200 people could lose their jobs. However, the city is trying to place those people in positions where others have resigned or retired.  So, the final number of people out of work should be below 200. 

The Metro Council must approve Dean's plans. They need to pass a budget by the end of June.

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