Relief after proposed budget plan to increase property taxes in Nashville fails

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jun 19, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — All day his phone was lit up with phone calls. DeCosta Hastings knows his job as a councilman for District 2 entails a lot but after Tuesday night's Metro council meeting, he is fielding more calls than usual.

"A lot went on last night. I choose not to participate in madness anymore," he said.

By a narrow 20-18 vote, a proposed budget plan that would have increased property taxes in Nashville by 16 percent failed by one vote. It needed 21 to pass.

Councilwoman Tanka Vercher proposed the idea to help give Metro Nashville Public Schools an additional $50 million, enough to fund several programs and give teachers a 4 percent raise. Teachers have demanded for their promised pay raises, and vocalized their strong feelings at the meeting.

Since it did not pass, Mayor David Briley's original $2.33 billion budget plan will automatically go into effect, providing a 3 percent raise to city workers including teachers. However, it'll force several departments including MNPS to make big cuts since they're only receiving a fraction of what they asked for.

Of all the council members, only one chose not to vote for Vercher's substitute budget plan. That was Hastings.

"I wasn't necessarily in support of any plan. That was my reasoning for abstaining," Hastings told NewsChannel 5.

While he didn't place a vote and still supports teachers, Hastings said he couldn't support increase property taxes. He said his district is already the third largest in property values going up.

"If the value of your house gets more expensive, the more taxes you pay and I refuse not to put a continual tax on the people that I represent," Hastings said. "We can't raise taxes on 1% for different departments and give the people that we represent a 16 percent raise in taxes on their property, that is crazy."

Hasting's constituent Rose Wiseman lives in the Buena Vista Heights neighborhood. The 84-year-old is pleased property taxes aren't going up since many residents in the community have fixed incomes.

However, she finds her in the middle because she wished teachers get the pay raises they want.

"I feel that so many people cannot afford and don't need their taxes to be raised. It would hurt if the property taxes go up," Hastings added. "I was sad to know that the teachers are not getting what they need and really want."

MNPS released a statement saying it believes in the students and staff, and will have to make best of the resources they were given under the mayor's plan.

Vercher's substitute budget would also have given WeGo transit an additional $6 million next year. The CEO said the board will meet next week to figure out what they can cut to make the budget work.