NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Metro council member said he's proposing a property tax increase to help fund both employee cost of living increases and education.
Bob Mendes is proposing a 50-cent property tax increase across the board.
"Last year the property tax rate got lowered through the reassessment process to an all time low of $3.15,” Mendes said. “Historically, we've always paired that with a 50- to 90-cent increase in the rate, and so there's been that effect where usually the rate goes down some, but not as much as it would from the reassessment."
Mendes said this would help with many budget issues facing Metro for fiscal year 2018-2019 and beyond.
"We would be able to fund the employee cost of living increases that we've already committed to,” Mendes said. “We'd be able to pay for our obligations to Metro Schools, and we also would be able to afford the other debt that we know we have to deal with over the next two fiscal years."
Mendes stated no one likes to talk about property tax rates, but he also said the people of Nashville want to honor the pay increases and the school obligations.
"I think this is the fiscally responsible thing to do,” Mendes said. “We've been in a chaotic time for the last half year at least in the Metropolitan government. We're still in a chaotic time with an election pending, maybe going to a run-off."
According to Mendes, Metro has been “raiding the piggy bank” to use rainy day five-percent funds in order to fund the budget.
“We're having a one time sale of $38 million of real estate just to get through this year,” Mendes stated.
He added Metro will be looking at across the board budget cuts a year from now.
“We have two choices,” Mendes said. “We can either do the rate increase and fix the mistake we made last year, or we can avoid it on the backs of school children or employees."
Mendes said he believes most people are either surprised or angry about the budget issues.
"One of the things that has been the life blood of civic conversation for two decades is that we need a vibrant downtown tourism industry in order to be the economic engine to pay for what we do as a city,” Mendes said. “It's disheartening. It's unpleasant to find ourselves in a position where we've got a vibrant tourism business, boom times as good as it gets, and talking about a budget crunch."
The proposal would be for the total general services district and the urban services district, according to Mendes.
He said it will be written and submitted next week, and he added the co-sponsors wanted to get it out before the three-day holiday weekend.