The newly elected Metro Council still hasn’t convened, but District 25 Councilman Sean McGuire has one resolution already in the pipeline.
McGuire, recently named the council’s Budget and Finance Committee chair, told The City Paper Wednesday he plans to file a non-binding memorializing resolution requesting the state legislature exempt Davidson County flood victims who are part of Metro’s home buyout program from paying property taxes.
“These homeowners are facing a scenario of having to pay property taxes on a home that is uninhabitable, and what is more, on a home that they have already signed an agreement to sell to Metro,” McGuire wrote in a letter sent to council colleagues Wednesday.
When the buyout is complete, 223 homes in flood-prone areas –– damaged in Nashville’s historic May 2010 flood –– are to be purchased and demolished, with the properties becoming open green space. Razing began in the spring.
The program relies mostly on Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, FEMA officials announced plans to temporarily suspend non-emergency spending. The decision resulted in freezing $30.4 million in FEMA funds that had been designated to complete the three remaining buyout packages.
“Since FEMA and the federal government froze all hazard mitigation funds, [property owners] are basically in a holding pattern, waiting to see what will happen,” McGuire said. “For them, they have no indication on when the buyout is actually going to come.
“In my personal opinion, it’s not really fair to have them pay property taxes on pieces of property that is inhabitable,” he added.
McGuire, who has several constituents who are part of the buyout program, said Metro is set to collect approximately $274,000 from the affected buyout properties during the next fiscal year.
He acknowledged there would be a “financial impact” under his proposal.
To date, Metro has closed on 94 homes. Metro officials anticipate closure of another 12 that are not affected by the FEMA delays, leaving 119 to wait for congressional action.
Mayor Karl Dean has urged Congress to restore Nashville’s home buyout funding.