$3 billion Metro budget proposal draws criticism from council member

downtown nashville
Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 29, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro's nearly $3 billion budget proposal drew sharp criticism from one councilman who heard it Friday morning.

Councilman at-large Bob Mendes is on Metro's Budget and Finance Committee that heard the idea first.

It's a $319 million increase, bringing the budget to nearly $3 billion.

Mendes said that sounds right based off what's happened the past two years.

"The growth of this budget is more than previous years, and really we should view that as a correction after COVID," said Mendes. "The growth over the last couple of years has probably been less than what has really been going on just because we've had the uncertainty of COVID."

It promised key investments in public safety with dozens of positions added to EMS, MNPD, the fire department and 911 dispatch.

It also included affordable housing as an area where more funds would be spent.

Mendes was critical of the budget proposal, which he called little more than a press release.

"The things I don't like is the budget seems reactionary, and the process is very chaotic," he said. "It's reactionary, especially on homelessness spending. This administration has really overseen sort of a disaster in losing many of the employees managing homelessness."

Mendes said the most basic of details just aren't available in the proposal to a level he hasn't seen in his six years as a council member.

He was critical of Mayor John Cooper.

"This administration takes a while to make decisions and their decision making can be chaotic. I assume they'll get us details when they have them. The council doesn't have them yet," he said.

The budget proposal recommends bringing the minimum pay for city staff to $18 an hour. It has increased spending in homelessness, which was an area of focus in 2021.