Mayor John Cooper announces property tax rate cut for Nashville as overall property values rise

Posted at 7:03 AM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 23:41:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced that Davidson County property owners will soon see a large cut in their property tax rate. He told Amy Watson on NewsChannel 5 This Morning that the 34% property tax increase will be "reversed."

In response, some Metro council members and those behind a push to limit tax hikes in Nashville say the Mayor's comments are misleading.

Cooper said in the coming weeks, the Davidson County Property Assessor will mail out property reappraisals that will show property values have increased significantly across the county. He added that while the final data isn't yet in, the tax assessor is working on it, and the letters will probably start going out next week.

But the lower tax rate is a direct result of those property values and a specific state law that makes it illegal for cities to bring in more tax money just by upping everyone's property values; when property values go up, the state law requires the tax rate to automatically drop.

Today’s announcement means that property tax rates will go down as homeowners receive news that their property values have increased.

Cooper called it a "great achievement for the whole county."

"With stewardship, we’ve managed our way through all those financial difficulties a year ago to an environment where the city can prudently do this. We’ve restored our balance sheet, our finances," Cooper said.

But while the tax rate might drop, an increase in an individual home valuation means that a homeowner's total tax bill might not necessarily drop -- in fact, some tax bills may go up.

With the tax rate, the Mayor said Davidson County's will return to its level a few years ago and will be within pennies of lowest rate ever charged in the State of Tennessee, which is already a low tax state.

Cooper said for example, the taxes that you paid for a $400,000 house will now be less than what you paid 20 years ago or what you paid 40 years ago.

When asked if the city's financial crisis is over, Cooper responded: “You can always be in better shape, but we have avoided the catastrophe of insolvency that was facing us before COVID and then you had COVID happen, so you had to have a revenue adjustment, but our strong growth and fundamentals are allowing us to go back, to get to the lowest tax rate in Nashville history and we were always the lowest in the state but we’ll be within a few pennies.”

However, Metro Council Member Bob Mendes called the Mayor's announcement "misleading."

Jim Roberts is an attorney behind the Taxpayer Protection Act, who has gathered signatures to get the proposal in front of Nashville voters that would limit how much Metro can increase property tax rates each year. Roberts pointed out the role of home values in the tax rate decrease.

"Our property values will go up, and the rates will drop," Roberts said. "Mayor Cooper has nothing to do with that, and to take credit for that, is just dishonest."

The Davidson County Election Commission is meeting Saturday to potentially decide whether to put the Taxpayer Protection Act on the ballot.

Watch the full interview with Mayor John Cooper in the video player at the top of the story.