Cuts to the Metro Council budget could make it more difficult for constituents to contact their council representatives.
As discussed with Mayor Karl Dean at yesterday’s budget hearings, the council could be asked to eliminate 40 phone lines — one for each council member — and the voicemail systems that are connected to their offices inside the Metro Courthouse. Removing the lines would net $8,800 in savings.
If council office phone lines were disconnected, constituents would have to contact members at their houses, offices or on their cell phones. Most council members share multiple phone numbers on their profile pages at www.nashville.gov.
In addition, the council may be forced to eliminate one position within its office. Currently, seven Metro employees work there.
Heads of all Metro departments have been asked to evaluate the effect of a 7.5 percent reduction within their budgets.
For the council’s office, that dollar figure is still undermined. When taking into account the salaries and benefits of council members, a 7.5 percent reduction equals cuts of $116,000. But when excluding those costs, cuts would only total $53,700.
The Metro Council’s office — and its annual budget of $1.78 million — is already smaller in staff and budget compared with council offices in most other large municipalities.
Dean is expected to hand the council his Metro Government budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year by May 1.