Groups react to referendum that Mayor Cooper calls a 'poison pill'

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Posted at 10:39 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 11:04:05-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Mayor Cooper has made clear his stance on the referendum that would undo the 34% property tax increase the metro council passed this year.

"I do worry that the result of this is just forcing a stealth election on Nashville, an expensive election on Nashville, in order to give the city a poison pill," Cooper said at a press conference back in August.

In the days since that announcement, Metro has said a rollback of the tax hike would eliminate 550 police officers - a third of the force, and Metro Schools says the cuts would render the school district “unrecognizable”

Mark Cunningham with the Conservative-leaning Beacon Center of Tennessee says Metro government should be shouldering some of the cuts.

"Nobody’s thinks that’s fair," Cunningham said. "If you’re going to ask people to pay higher property taxes, you need to be able to show you’re feeling some of the pain."

Thursday, Metro announced a hiring freeze and asked department heads for more spending cuts that can last through the end of this year.

But instead of cutting as many police officers, for example, Cunningham says the city should renegotiate tax break deals the city gave companies like amazon to move to town.

"Anything he can do to renegotiate the current deals we have and rein in any future deals, would be a huge benefit to our bottom line," Cunningham said.

It’s unclear if those companies would go for something like that, as the economic impacts of the pandemic continue.