'Invest in fundamentals' Mayor Cooper presents new agenda for Nashville in State of Metro address

coop state of metro
Posted at 9:30 AM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 22:51:36-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper delivered his third State of Metro address on Wednesday morning.

Watch the full address in the video player below:

Mayor John Cooper delivers 59th State of Metro address

The mayor addressed Metro Council and Nashville residents from the Southeast Community Center in Antioch. This year's speech marked the first time a mayor has chosen to deliver the address at a site outside the downtown core.

"We’re here today at the Southeast Nashville Community Center because the Nashville we know and love, the Nashville we want to serve — and preserve — is a city rooted in our neighborhoods, and in our families," said Mayor Cooper. "[The Southeast Community Center is] the perfect backdrop to tell you about my agenda for Nashville neighborhoods and families, which is the heart of our work in the year ahead."

Cooper announced his agenda for "Nashville Neighborhoods and Families" as the city continues its recovery from the pandemic. The mayor commended Dr. Alex Jahangir, chairman of Nashville's Coronavirus Task Force, for his work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which was given a standing ovation. Dr. James Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical College, Dr. Tama VanDecar of TriStar, Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt and Nashville's nurses and health care professionals were also thanked.

The mayor called Nashville's recovery "nothing short of remarkable."

"We have the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the country among all major metros. And we still have the lowest property tax rate of all our peer cities in Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, and Memphis," Cooper said.

He laid out his vision for the city's future, his policy agenda and budget priorities for the next fiscal year. Cooper has announced six core focus areas for his administration.

"This is a budget for full recovery. To take us to the next level and really deal with city problems. We are going to invest in fundamentals. Fix what has been broken, underfunded, not maintained, not picked up. This is our moment to fix a generation of problems that have been handed down," Cooper said.

These focus areas include:

  • Investing in our children's futures through education
  • Keeping Nashville's streets and neighborhoods safe
  • Creating and preserving affordable housing
  • Addressing homelessness
  • Improving core services and transportation infrastructure
  • Becoming a greener, more sustainable city


Mayor Cooper presents new agenda: education, green efforts for Nashville, in State of Metro address

Mayor Cooper will allocate $92.1 million in new funds for Metro Nashville Public Schools.

"This unprecedented investment will fund salary step increases and a 4% cost-of living adjustment. It allows us to bring bus drivers up to competitive wages, fill the more than 150 bus driver vacancies and get every child to their seat by the morning bell for a full day of learning," said Mayor Cooper.

It also will increase pay for cafeteria workers and paraprofessionals. Cooper announced the funding will also provide paid family leave for all MNPS employees.

Community Safety

Cooper's agenda will add 157 new emergency response personnel, which includes 46 additional police officers. Many of these new officers, in addition to the 40 added last year, will staff the upcoming ninth police precinct in Southeast Nashville.

The proposed emergency response personnel will also include forty 911 dispatchers, eight positions for crime analysis in the Evidence Processing Unit, 31 firefighters and 36 EMS staff.

He announced the expansion of Metro's Partners in Care program to additional police precincts. The co-response program pairs police officers with mental health providers.

In the first nine months of the program, which launched last year, Cooper said Partners in Care teams responded to 1,135 calls, but only made 43 arrests.

"Instead of taking people to jail, officers and mental health professionals are working together to connect people to the care they need," Cooper said.

This comes as MNPD faces a staffing crisis, with more than 174 officers short of what they've been allocated by Metro Council. Chief John Drake told NewsChannel 5's Chris Davis after the speech that they have several strategies in place to recruit more officers.

"It’s a tough time for a lot of employers around the country, it’s the great resignation right? People are just walking away, and they don’t know what they’re going to do. So we’re trying to make the job more attractive through our community engagement to show all the great things we’re doing, and I think it’s starting to gain steam with building our resources," said Chief Drake.

Affordable Housing

Mayor Cooper presents new agenda in State of Metro address: affordable housing, transportation for Nashville

The Division of Housing within Metro's Planning Department will expand to a team of six people. Cooper's agenda will increase the total spending on affordable housing, a portion of which will be funding using money from the American Rescue Plan.

Mayor Cooper said his agenda's approach to creating and preserving affordable housing has three core focuses: invest in what works; increase staffing to meet the challenge; innovate through new approaches.

"Others so value what we have in Nashville that our property values are climbing. But Nashville is our city. We must get housing right. Nashvillians must be able to afford to live and work here, to raise their children here and have their children find opportunity here," he said.


The mayor's plan aims to "drastically reduce" homelessness over the next three years. He announced funding for nine new staffers in Metro's Homeless Impact Division. Cooper is proposing to use $50 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan to help house people experiencing homelessness.

"To address homelessness, again we are taking a three-pronged approach: invest, increase staff, and innovate with new solutions," he said. "Our $50 million plan to address homelessness will be Nashville’s largest-ever improvement to our safety net."

Next month, the city will break ground on a 90-unit permanent housing development for those experiencing homelessness.

Fixing Fundamental and Improving Transportation

Cooper's agenda includes investing an additional $10 million of the budget to increase the reliability of trash collection.

"Our Waste Services division took extraordinary measures to stabilize operations despite the bankruptcy of Red River, Metro’s primary trash collection vendor since 2004. Metro Waste Services crews worked 12-hour shifts to cover for Red River’s failures. We aggressively fought Red River in bankruptcy court and hired two new emergency vendors to take on routes and address delays," Cooper said. "We have turned the corner. Missed collection complaints to HubNashville are now back to pre-crisis levels."

Cooper said the city is adding an additional crew to help repair Nashville's roads. "NDOT crews have patched 15,400 potholes already this year. The time between your report of a pothole to Hub Nashville and NDOT patching it is less than 72 hours," said Mayor Cooper.

The budget will include $3 million to increase maintenance along roads, bikeways and alleyways.


The mayor is continuing his dedication to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from the 2014 levels by 2050.

Cooper's budget will expand staffing by 46 new positions for parks to maintain the upkeep of green spaces, community centers and greenways

His agenda proposes creating the Office of Music, Film and Entertainment as a new division in the mayor's office to support the city's creative class.

"Working together, we can do our part to leave our planet, and our city, better for the next generation," Cooper said.