With a 4 percent pay increase for city workers under consideration, At-large Metro Councilman Charlie Tygard plans to introduce legislation outlining a new mandate for newly hired Metro employees: that they reside in Davidson County.
“The proposed property tax hike is what really triggered it,” Tygard said, referring to the 53-cent increase to the property tax rate Mayor Karl Dean’s administration has put forth. Additional revenue would help bolster a $1.71 billion budget that includes a government-worker pay raise.
“If you’re going to ask for a raise and want the taxpayers to support that raise, then I want you to have some skin in the game,” Tygard told The City Paper Thursday.
The Tennessean first reported on the proposed ordinance, which Tygard said he plans to file formally before the next council meeting on June 5.
Metro, according to Tygard, had historically required its workforce to live in Davidson County until the mid-1990s. When the policy changed, Tygard was serving on the council as a district representative from Bellevue.
“I think now, when you look at the numbers, especially where we have over 50 percent of the fire department living out of the county, it’s time to revisit that issue,” Tygard said.
In recent days, Tygard said he distributed a spreadsheet to other council members detailing the number of out-of-county workers in each Metro department.
Nearly 55 percent of the Metro Nashville Fire Department’s employees live outside Davidson County. Thirty-five percent of the police department’s workforce resides outside the county. But at departments such as the Metro Action Commission, only 12 percent do.
Tygard said his proposed policy would only require newly hired Metro employees live within Davidson County’s boundaries. Current Metro workers would be unaffected.
“I was not willing to go the route of [establishing] a time period to move back into the county,” he said. “I think that’s too disruptive to families who have settled in.”
Opponents of Tygard’s bill might suggest that narrowing the workforce pool to Davidson County could limit the number of qualified applicants for a job. But Tygard dismissed the notion.
“Any time there are vacancies in any department, there are an ample number of potential employees applying for those slots,” Tygard said. “So, I don’t think attracting a qualified pool to fill coveted positions is going to be an issue.”
He said he would likely propose offering waivers to workers who need to live elsewhere for special circumstances. An example, he said, would be caretaking for a sick relative. Waivers, he said, could also be offered to employees in special fields if the city is unable to find qualified applicants who live in Nashville.