Citizen-led group forms to push Dean's property tax hike proposal

Monday, May 14, 2012 at 1:47pm

A Nashville pastor, public education activist and former Metro councilman have formed a new alliance to help Mayor Karl Dean make his case for a proposed 13 percent property tax increase.

Moving Nashville Forward, billed as a “grassroots coalition,” hopes to mobilize citizens to support the mayor’s tax increase plan, which the group says is essential to make key investments in public education and safety. The organization announced its creation Monday, one day before the mayor’s proposed 53-cent hike to the property tax rate heads before the Metro Council on the first of three votes.

“We see it as a major priority,” said Erik Cole, a former two-term East Nashville councilman. “We also know it’s a very difficult decision.

“We want to be there to work with the community and talk with folks over the next few weeks, and talk with council members to try to garner their support for greater revenue in the city,” he said.

For now, Moving Nashville Forward consists of only three players: Cole, who held the council’s District 7 seat from 2003-2011; Michael Joyner, pastor of Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church; and Francie Hunt, an education advocate who previously headed the Nashville Chapter of Stand for Children.

The trio says they plan to host meetings and information sessions across Davidson County before the mayor’s property tax increase and proposed $1.71 billion budget goes before the council for a final vote in June.

“We’re issuing an invitation to any and all who want to join with the effort,” Cole said. “We’ve really thrown this together in a relatively fast fashion.”

On Monday, organizers stuck to many of the same talking points Dean has made in trying to sell a tax increase to the public. Over the past five years, Cole pointed out, the number of Metro workers has decreased by nearly 700 thanks to an operating budget that has shrunk by $59 million.

Hunt and Joyner reinforced the biggest budgetary theme that Dean has pushed since unveiling his property tax increase proposal two weeks ago: the need to invest in public schools and public safety.

Hunt pointed to Deans’ plan to increase the starting salaries of Metro teachers from $35,000 to $40,000 in an effort to recruit high-performing teachers. The plan would move Nashville from 30th to third in the state in teacher pay. “We need to be able to be competitive,” Hunt said.

Joyner, in delivering the pitch for public safety, said the city needs revenue to ensure the retention of 50 cops hired two years ago through an expiring federal grant. He said streets are safer right now, in part because of a new Madison police precinct.

“We’re pushing this budget to move Nashville forward because it will increase the police that we have out on the streets,” Joyner said.

As Dean makes the difficult push for higher taxes in the weeks ahead, Moving Nashville Forward will have the mayor’s back. Asked about the level of communication the group would have with the mayor’s office, organizers didn’t really say.

“To the extent that we go about explaining the tax increase and explaining why this is needed, we’ll communicate with everyone we need to communicate with,” Cole said.

12 Comments on this post:

By: BASPUD on 5/14/12 at 2:01

maybe the preacher has plenty of money for taxes because every dime he gets is free i have to work for my money and i don,t need a new tax pushed down my throat and as for the teachers they should only get a pay incerase if they can teach not the way they teach now one more thing they need need a dam dress code most of them look like street people the kids think why should i listen to to them when they don,t dress the part ps nashville has got enough crooked cops

By: govskeptic on 5/14/12 at 2:49

I'm highly suspect the Administration and their well funded, fire-brand PR Firm
helped put this together. Former Councilman Cole never say a tax or Mayoral
proposal that he didn't think was just dandy!

By: truthtold on 5/14/12 at 5:08

Mr. Cole, Metro has 700 less employees and does anybody really miss them? That means that the city had 700 employees they didn't need. That means we paid benefits on 700 hundred employees which was a complete waste. That is a good start Mr. Cole. Now why doesn't Metro cut every department that is duplicated by the State? All of the States departments are located in this city because we are the capital. Does this city really need two departments of Social Services? Do we really need two departments of Housing? One from the State and one from Metro? Why take from us because you can't balance your budget?

By: Ask01 on 5/14/12 at 10:31

Let's be honest.

We all know taxes fund governmental operations. That is a brutal fact.

Society as we know it would cease to exist.

That on the table, we citizens expect government to be good stewards of our money, and get the most of every hard earned dollar contributed to the pot.

That means, for me at least, taking care of basic societal needs, ensuring adequate public safety through police and fire departments, providing well rounded education for our children, maintaining neighborhoods with proper lighting, sidewalks and repaired roads.

Not part of the deal is building facilities for private business interests, handing out tax breaks to corporations, and other non essentials before taking care of basics. Most heinous is attending to the aforementioned items, then claiming a need to raise taxes or cutting basic services will be the only answer.

Another issue is keeping government employee staffing at "just right" levels, and keepig salaries at reasonable levels from top to bottom, and ensuring the gap between both ends isn't as ridiculously wide as in the private sector.

I cannot comprehend how any citizens could, knowing the history of spending by this administration, support the proposed increase.

By: Loner on 5/15/12 at 3:41

Good thing that the NCP put "grassroots" in quotation marks...these are three brown-nosing professional zealots...working to advance their own personal agendas....and to ingratiate themselves with the Dean regime.

I would guess that these losers are trying to worm their way back into the limelight of for the pastor, give him an air-walk wedgie and haul him out of the hallowed halls of governance...theocrats suck, especially those who are calling for more cops, more laws and more restrictions on our personal freedoms.

Mayor Dean must have personally organized this phony "grassroots" coalition....a few idiots might be fooled, but most folks see what's going on here.

By: spooky24 on 5/15/12 at 6:19

This will not help the Mayors main problem. Yes, the tax increase will pass however the ever evolving untruth about the 'need' will not go away. Defections from the Mayors office and the office of the finance director have made it clear that this increase is about the debt service from the first refinance of the cities debt-not any pressing need within the government.
The mayors office used these borrowed funds(which have now come due) to solidify his political base within the inter city. The enormous turnout that defeated the 'English only' vote is the result, along with naming Howard Gentry Criminal Court Clerk, an office he was totally unqualified for.
Business as usual however some individuals need to understand the dangers of burning bridges in politics-as well as their personal lives.


By: nashmusic2244 on 5/15/12 at 2:15

once again, this tax increase is ridiculous! Get Karl Dean to trim the fat at city hall....dozens of staffers getting paid in excess of $ 100K while the community gets gouged.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/16/12 at 5:17

LONER......A very insightful response!

By: Left-of-Local on 5/16/12 at 8:08

Always amusing to see the droves of people who think that cities just run without funding, and ignore progress that has been made in already trimming the excess in the budget and the staff.

Whine, whine, whine... I'll remember that when I ride a bus or something. You don't want city taxes? GET OUT OF THE CITY.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/16/12 at 8:27

LEFTY.......I think that a lot of people are following your advice. I say that because every artery into Nashville from 7 to 9 is clogged with people who have moved to adjacent counties for a better quality of life and lower taxes. Then in the afternoon between 4 and 6 they are clogged again with people who cannot wait to enjoy a life outside the Davidson County border. The children of these people are going to school with people of their own kind.

Now for those of us who live in Belle Meade, Green Hills and Hillwood we just pay the tax along with the private school tuition. I am beginning to believe that those with an after tax income of $250,000 dollars a year are becoming a lesser factor in the world. I say that because Hillwood Country Club is having trouble attracting new members and is losing a lot of old members.

By: Left-of-Local on 5/18/12 at 11:53

So... they need to all be riding light rail or (GASP) HIGH SPEED RAIL.

By: Ask01 on 5/20/12 at 12:28

We can likely balance our budget if we remove much of the upper management from the city payroll.

The end result will probably be workers actually performing their jobs in the most efficient manner, and at reduced cost, because they will not have college educated overlords, with no practical experience telling them how to accomplish a task they have been doing for years.

Perhaps we could transform Nashville into the city of the working people, ridding ourselves of all those who skipped the hard work and experience portion, and putting thos in power who worked their way up through the ranks.