Nashville's Property Tax Hike won't be decided by voters; opponents still trying to kill it

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Posted at 8:52 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 22:29:32-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A controversial Nashville special election won't be moving forward. Tuesday, Nashville Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled against a referendum that would have let voters decided whether or not their property taxes would go up.

Opponents are hoping to still squash the measure. "I’m going to fight in order to put the money back into the taxpayer's pocket," said Councilman Steve Glover. "[Mayor John Cooper] is wrong and I’m sick and tired of him pretending like it’s okay to do what they did."

Chancellor Lyle wrote in her decision that she had several concerns about how the referendum was written. Justin Owen, President and CEO of The Beacon Center, says he wasn't surprised by Lyle's ruling.

"[She] had concerns about the language of the referendum, whether it could go on the ballot," said Owen.

The Beacon Center wasn't involved in the push to get the referendum on the ballot, but supported the premise.

"We already allow voters to decide on sales tax increases, on wheel tax increases, and in fact we’re one of only four states in the entire nation that don’t have any type of similar approach to property taxes," he said.

Moving forward, Owen wants the city or the state legislature to pass a law that requires all tax increases to be approved directly by voters.

"Unlike other states, where if they want to raise taxes at the local level, you get to go vote on it. Ultimately we believe that’s what the rule should be here in Tennessee," said Owen.

Mayor John Cooper's office released a statement Tuesday:

“Today’s decision is great news for our city. It reflects the widely held view that this referendum was just not legal enough to be up to a vote. The Chancellor’s thoughtful ruling calls out a misguided effort. It clearly shows why it was the wrong choice for a stronger Nashville. We are the lowest-taxed city in one of the lowest-taxed states, even after the property tax increase. We can have the lowest tax rate and fix our finances, pay teachers more, build schools, and invest in neighborhoods. Thankfully, the city does not have to spend between $800,000 and $1 million on something that would later be overturned. Instead, we can focus on the work Metro Council and I were hired to do.”
Nashville Mayor John Cooper

Beyond Mayor Cooper's statement, NewsChannel 5 wanted to sit down with Cooper or one of his department heads, to talk about the impact this money would have for Davidson County residents. A spokesperson for Cooper told us they would just stick with the statement.

As for Councilman Glover, he vows to work every day to find a way to eventually repeal the increase, but so far, doesn't have a specific plan.

"I’m checking on the legality of what ideas I have to make sure whatever I file will be sufficient," Glover said.

The authors of the referendum proposal do have the option of appealing Chancellor Lyle's ruling, but there's no word yet whether or not they will move forward.