Group ‘Save Nashville Now’ aims to stop ‘dangerous’ charter referendum

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Posted at 11:48 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 12:49:31-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A coalition of Nashville businesses, organizations, educators, faith leaders and others have launched an effort called “Save Nashville Now,” which aims to stop what they call a “dangerous” charter referendum.

Earlier this month, the Davidson County Election Commission voted to allow a charter referendum on the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act (NTPA), which seeks to limit property tax increases in Nashville. That referendum is set for July 27.

“Save Nashville Now” says if passed, it would result in “drastic cuts to critical services, threaten the safety and security of residents, and hamper the city’s efforts to fully recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.”

“This is a very dangerous referendum,” Amanda Kail, president of the Metro Nashville Education Association, said in describing the referendum’s impact on education. “If this passes, our students will see drastic cuts to their schools, including fewer teachers, bigger class sizes, and major cuts to social and emotional supports, educational materials, athletics, school libraries, art and music programs, and career and technical education courses. We must vote no on July 27th.”


The coalition said the following groups are part of the effort:

Labor, safety, education and public employees

  • The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
  • International Firefighters International Association IFFA local 140
  • Service Employees International Union Local 205
  • Laborers International Union of North America Local 386
  • Metro Nashville Education Association, NEA affiliate

Faith groups

  • IMF — International Ministerial Fellowship
  • AMAC — American Muslim Advisory Council
  • NOAH — Nashville Organizing for Action and Hope, a multi-faith organization with over 60 congregations and faith groups represented.
  • Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable

Community groups

  • The Equity Alliance Fund TIRRC Votes!
  • A VOICE for the Reduction of Poverty
  • Nashville for All of Us
  • Stand Up Nashville

Business groups

  • Nashville Chamber of Commerce — President/CEO Ralph Shulz
  • LGBT Chamber of Commerce — President/CEO Joe Wooley
  • Nashville Business Coalition — President Joseph Woodson
  • Nashville Visitor Convention Bureau — President Butch Spyridon
  • Greater Nashville Realtors Association — President Jarron Springer
  • Nashville Business Alliance – President Michael Carter

Read the group's full announcement here.

The NTPA would limit how much the city's tax rate could go up each year. It's being backed by a group called “4GoodGovernment.” Their first referendum attempt failed when a judge ordered the wording on the petition wasn't clear enough to put the proposal in front of voters.

After 4GoodGovernment sent out direct mailers to gather signatures in early May, both the Election Commission and Metro Clerk's office verified and certified enough valid signatures to put the issue in front of voters, but the election commission still had the final say.

"These are citizens, who wanted this on the ballot, and that's the election commission's job is to let people vote, let people run for office, and let people vote on ballot initiatives," 4GoodGovernment's Jim Roberts said at the time.

Less than 24 hours after the commission voted to put it on the ballot, the city filed a lawsuit against the election commission. The Nashville Business Coalition also filed suit against the commission.

Last year, several city departments said if that ballot measure passed, it would result in severe cuts to several city departments and Metro Public Schools.