NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville mayor David Briley says his office is "hitting the pause button" on a parking proposal on a plan that would have added two thousand metered parking spots, increased rates and increased fines.
"It is clear to me that residents still have questions about the merits of this proposal," Mayor Briley's statement reads. "Residents need more time – and it is unfair to the public and to Council to rush this process. Worse yet, others are using misinformation to further confuse and scare people. It’s politics at its worst."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates recently uncovered that ten lobbyists were pushing for the privatized parking plan, which was being likened to a payday loan by a local attorney.
Under the Mayor's plan the city would partner with a private company to operate and enforce street parking in the city. The plan called for 2,000 new metered spots in the first four years, for fines to increase to $25, and free parking on Sundays would be eliminated.
The Mayor's office said the deal would generate more than $300 million over 30 years for the city, including $34 million upfront. That money would be used to plug a nearly $40 million dollar hole in next year's budget.
"I think most people are willing to have a conversation about it, just not in the hurry on the fly in budget season," said Councilman at large Bob Mendes.
Other Council members say there's no need for a private company - the city can make the changes itself.
"It didn't make sense, nothing made sense. If we can buy the equipment and if we can do these things and we could actually charge what was being proposed it would have been better off for the city, we could have been much more fair to the taxpayers," said Steve Glover, District 12.
Some believe the mayor says he will reintroduce the plan after the election.
"If it gets picked up again after the election I'm happy to have that conversation, then," said Mendes.
Here is the mayor's full statement:
"Nashville is a leader in everything from affordable housing to philanthropy to health care. There is no reason why we should not at least be on par with our peer cities when it comes to technologies like on-street parking modernization. It’s smart city management.
Better yet, the proposal before the Metro Council would modernize our system while generating much-needed revenue for transit-related projects – all without ceding Metro’s control or selling anything.
That said, it is clear to me that residents still have questions about the merits of this proposal. Residents need more time – and it is unfair to the public and to Council to rush this process. Worse yet, others are using misinformation to further confuse and scare people. It’s politics at its worst.
For these reasons, I am hitting the pause button on this proposal. I have asked the sponsors of the ordinance to defer it until we can have a more comprehensive discussion. We have time to keep talking, and we should take it. Let’s get past the noise of the election season and allow everyone to get their questions answered.
In the meantime, thank you to all who have worked so hard on this. I look forward to continuing the conversation."
Councilman and mayoral candidate John Cooper released the following statement:
"It’s incredible that it’s taken a year for Mayor Briley to realize that people don’t want this. The transparency of the deal was always inadequate. His determination to bring it back up if he’s re-elected is a mistake. And it shows that he is still not hearing what the people are saying."
Carol Swain who is also running for mayor responded by condemning the plan:
"Glad to see Mayor Briley is taking our advice and not moving forward with his loan shark scheme to sell our parking meters for fast cash. Don’t press “pause” press “delete!”
State Representative John Ray Clemmons, also running for mayor, responded with the following statement:
"I've opposed this parking plan since day one for several reasons. From my conversation with Metro leadership, it was made clear this deal was being rushed through without any opportunity for public engagement or feedback, because the mayor was yet again relying on non-recurring revenue as another one-time budgetary band-aid, without any consideration of the long-term fiscal integrity of our city. Zero consideration was given to residents’ quality of life or the impact on our neighborhoods and small businesses. Existing public parking should be improved and updated, but this initiative can be led and executed within Metro with more transparency and accountability in a fiscally responsible manner. Nashville needs a mayor who is not afraid of hard work and is prepared to make the tough decisions necessary to improve public services for the benefit of everyone."
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