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Metro leaders call charter referendum 'dangerous' and 'irresponsible'

Posted at 10:49 PM, Sep 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 19:02:14-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The new push to get a charter referendum on the ballot to repeal Nashville's incoming 34% property tax increase will likely be addressed during Tuesday night’s Metro Council meeting.

The group 4GoodGovernment is pushing the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act, which would add a charter amendment on a special election ballot that would let people vote to repeal the property tax hike.

The group gathered more than 20,000 signatures to call for a special vote in December -- an extra election that would cost Nashville taxpayers an estimated $800,000.

They argue with the nation battling COVID-19 and Nashville still rebounding from the March tornadoes, this is not a good time to increase property taxes.

If passed, the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act would limit property tax hikes to 2%, prevent Metro from giving away public land and require all issued bonds over $15 million to be approved by a voter referendum.

On Monday, Nashville leaders came together to call it "another dangerous far-right attempt to destroy the progress that we've made in Nashville." City leaders say the proposal would "gut" Music City and be a "self-inflicted disaster."

Metro says the amendment would cause massive cuts to city services, including a wave of first responder layoffs that would leave one-third of Nashville's firefighters out of work.

The city estimates if the amendment was approved, Nashville would be stuck with a $332-million deficit for this fiscal year alone and would see major cuts to services such as trash collecting and recycling.

Additionally, the city says every Metro Nashville public school would also see cuts. MNPS Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle went as far as to say schools could become "unrecognizable".

Back in June, Metro Council members passed a budget that included the property tax hike. It would be the largest property tax increase in Metro Nashville history and the first hike since 2012.