Candidates steer clear of Dean's tax hike on council's first vote

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 11:52pm

A handful of Metro Council members –– led by those campaigning for higher offices ––made it clear Tuesday they don’t want their fingerprints on Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed property tax hike.

But other than that, the council’s 30-4 vote, with three abstentions, Tuesday to approve the mayor’s property tax increase on the first of three required votes amounted to very little. The same can be said for the 30-3 vote to sign off on the mayor’s $1.71 billion budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Both actions were made to advance the proposals to the council’s committee system. Even a few anti-tax council members voted for the tax hike. Though Dean’s proposed 53-cent increase to Metro’s combined property tax rate will now move on to a crucial second of three votes in June, Tuesday’s initial vote didn’t signal a clear ringing endorsement.

“It doesn’t mean much to the outcome,” At-large Councilman Ronnie Steine said of the night’s events. “What you saw was the council members that are running for other offices this summer wanting to be ‘Nos’ ”

Under council procedure, virtually all legislation is approved on first reading to move the items to council committees for further debate.

Moreover, according to the Metro charter, the budget would automatically become law if the council were to vote down the mayor’s budget ordinance on first reading.

Despite these well-known facts, some council members spoke up Tuesday to go on record either opposing or abstaining on first reading operating budget that would be funded by the first property tax increase since 2005.

Three council members who chose this path were Darren Jernigan, Jason Potts and Bo Mitchell, who are all running as Democrats for House seats in the Republican-dominated state legislature. Politically, a vote for a tax hike –– apparently of any kind –– could hand red meat to their opponents.

“So many of my constituents that were decimated by the flood two years ago were literally under water then and are figuratively under water now,” Mitchell told The City Paper of his vote Tuesday. “Economically, I don’t think some of my folks can handle any more coming out of their paycheck.

Asked why he didn’t approve the budget to simply move it to committee, Mitchell pointed to public sentiment: “I’ve heard from a substantial number of my constituents asking me to say, ‘No.’ ”

Jernigan abstained from voting on the budget proposal and the separate tax levy ordinance. Potts voted against both. Mitchell, meanwhile, abstained from voting on Dean’s budget but voted against the tax increase proposal.

In addition, Councilman Robert Duvall voted against Dean’s budget and against a property tax increase. He’s also running for a state House seat. But as a conservative Republican and longtime anti-tax crusader, his votes were more predictable.

The other no-vote on the budget and tax levy ordinance was Councilman Tony Tenpenny. In addition, council members Duane Dominy and Karen Johnson abstained from voting on either item.

Absent for Tuesday’s votes were council members Erica Gilmore, Edith Langster and Emily Evans.

15 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 5/16/12 at 2:39

These actions, or inactions, reveal more about candidates character, or lack of such, than months of campaigning.

The revelation is, for me, a complete lack of intestinal fortitude and character deficincies much deeper than previously suspected.

Emulating Governor Haslam, who also takes the easy way out, trying to straddle the fence, not signing, but not vetoing legislation, allowing bills to become law with his apparent approval or disapproval may be good politics, more like sleazy to me, but is not effective leadership. My advice is, "Grow a pair."

I will remember, come election time, this ham handed tactic. Candidates, no matter who, who spinelessly hid out to avoid taking a stand have, by default taken a stand.

I'm afraid those dreams of higher elected office may be slipping slowly away. I believe I would become concerned about serving the public, and holding on to office you currently occupy.

To those who defied Mayor Dean, to quote a friend of mine, "You done good!"

By: tpaine on 5/16/12 at 4:47

The Council has a choice.
They can either force the Mayor to stick to his campaign promise and balance the budget without a tax increase or they can force me to come up with the money out of my beleagured budget.
I guess they missed the fact we're in the middle of a recession and this is the WORST of all times to be raising taxes.
People are literally going to be losing their homes because of this tax increase.

By: spooky24 on 5/16/12 at 6:08

At lease the City Paper and it writers are not treating people like chumps the rest of the media seems to love doing by try to convince them that this tax increase is, or ever was, in doubt.

Most other media in Nashville actually think people are so native to believe that any vote by any particular councilperson is going to make in a difference with the powerful Dean machine and it's 21 votes firmly in pocket- or should I say back pocket.

"Absent for Tuesday’s votes were council members Erica Gilmore, Edith Langster and Emily Evans"

Nice touch Joey


By: Nitzche on 5/16/12 at 7:57

take the lead of your leader democrats, let me get in office, then i can do what i want, but right now--no tax hike...COWARDS

By: Left-of-Local on 5/16/12 at 8:21

Anyone losing their home because of a tax increase BOUGHT TOO MUCH HOME. And they might need to consider cutting back on ridiculous services which charge TOO MUCH, like TV.

Turn the damn thing off and go enjoy a park, paid for by your taxes. Or stop trying to flip houses. Or ditch the disgusting American trend of "starter homes". Or be more modest (less greedy and materialistic) and buy a less pricey and huge house next time.

By: playthegame on 5/16/12 at 10:58

While I am for teachers getting a raise, there are just too many positions in Metro schools where cuts are still needed. There are too many administration positions still at central office, virtual school, and administrative positions backing up new programs. With all the new charter schools, teaching positions not filled for the past few years, but saying a hundered new teachers need to be hired, and screwing over the custodians two years ago, central administration was going to show they could save the city money. Then show us where you are saving the city money where the needed teachers can be hired from the savings. If it's about hiring new teachers at a $40,000 starting salary, I'm sure with today's economic problems (and the teacher's school loans needing to be paid) they will be glad to work at this year's scale. NO TAX INCREASE in the name of education this year or next.

By: treehugger7 on 5/17/12 at 6:32

Amen, Left! The increase is necessary and not large. Grow up! If we want a pleasant reasonable city, we need to fund it, no matter what the tea nuts think. You can't run a city on fumes. There is nothing shameful about financing improvements that benefit the city. that's how we became a place people want to live. If you don't like it, feel free to move!

By: Left-of-Local on 5/17/12 at 8:44

Remember: Nashville is only 50 years old. It is a sniveling toddler among cities when the conversation is controlled by those who can be described as the same...

By: truthtold on 5/17/12 at 9:09

Wow! Don't you love Left-of-Local and Treehugger7? If you want to live in a free country for sure don't listen to them. They will tell you how much house to buy and exactly how much tax you should pay. I have a novel idea. How about let me decide how much house to buy and how much in taxes I should pay. Some people may have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own, and are having a hard time making ends meet. The last things these people need is some moron telling them that if they can't afford their taxes it is their fault.

But really it comes down to if the Government can't make it with what they have then the Government is too big. Government makes and produces nothing. All of us have to pay for their non-productivity. It is exactly like having extra weight in a cart being pulled by all of us. Get the "dead" weight out of the cart and we can pull the fruits of our labor to market much more easily, or we can load our carts up with more product to sale because we are not pulling "dead" weight. Either way we can create wealth instead of being robbed of it.

Property taxes make you a slave to the Government. You might as well be living in Egypt making bricks without straw.

By: Jughead on 5/17/12 at 10:15

Scumball politicians paying themselves with my money. Scum.

By: Jughead on 5/17/12 at 10:15

This is a HUGE increase, and it blows my mind that taxpayers don't realize how sneaky the process was. Dean is a creep and a liar.

By: thinking12 on 5/17/12 at 6:10

Left-of-Local and Treehugger7 -please don't abdicate your responsibilities to research facts and figures and not just take Mayor Dean's word for truth.

playthegame says something of worth and truth-look back at the "savings" quoted when custodians were out sourced and bus divers cut an hour-

It's all about accountability and transparency-and not abdicating your energy(money,time and intelligence) to elected people who draw a salary and then not do their own homework to educate themselves on the truth- some just worry about "how things will look for their (re) election" and not do their jobs now!!!!

Did Mayor Dean say in 2007 "I'll be a leader and I'm not going to raise taxes. Period."

What happened Mayor Dean?
A 13% increase-even Metro employees will still be in the hole at least 9%.

By: Left-of-Local on 5/18/12 at 11:46

Yep. Freedom and gluttony/greed being synonymous. God bless America.

And yes. It is pretty hard to keep campaign promises when an ignorant population and stick-in-the-mud Council screws up everything you try do.

By: Shadow63 on 5/18/12 at 7:16

My mortgage has long been payed off and now my prop tax bill is higher than my original note.
It's true then that we own nothing, we are only renting from the state.

By: Ask01 on 5/20/12 at 12:17

I cannot help but wonder if some poster are actually paid by Mayor Dean to advance his cause with such childish insults characterizing Nashvillians desiring fiscally responsible government as being slow, ignorant, old fashioned, and any number of other lame, ill thought out, attempts to berate the citizenry?

Let them prattle on and ignore them.