District 22 Councilman Eric Crafton has re-filed his memorializing resolution stating Council’s desire that the proposed Music City Center be built without the use of property tax dollars.
Crafton had filed the resolution earlier this year, but it was withdrawn at a meeting last month when he was not in attendance. The move to withdraw was made by District 9 Councilman Jim Forkum, who said the bill had been deferred too many times because of Crafton’s routine absence from committee meetings.
“I’m going to re-file it and we’re going to discuss this because we need to have this debate,” Crafton said after his resolution was killed.
Crafton’s nonbinding resolution, which Finance Director Richard Riebeling called unnecessary, would state that Council would support the estimated $635 million Music City Center provided no property tax dollars are at risk.
As part of state legislation to create a new Convention Center Authority, Metro filed an amendment explicitly stating no property taxes would be used to finance the convention center.
However, Crafton feels property taxes are still at risk of being raised as an indirect result of Music City Center. Currently Metro uses $14 million worth of hotel/motel tax revenues to fund items like the Sommet Center subsidy for the Nashville Predators, the Farmer’s Market and the Arts Commission. Those funds go to pay back the debt on Music City Center once financing is approved.
Crafton said there’s no way to replace those funds, or pay for the operating of Music City Center, without raising taxes. Convention Centers typically operate with an annual deficit, although an initial projection from Johnson Consulting showed Music City Center would not have an annual deficit because the attached parking garage would be a money-maker.
Metro created a series of tourism and hotel/motel taxes in order to finance the Music City Center, but a formal package has not been presented to Metro Council yet.
A bill on second reading to authorize the Metro Development and Housing Agency to acquire land in the SoBro area where the Music City Center would be built is on second reading on the May 19 Council agenda.