McGuire's alternative budget clears committee, heads to full council vote

Monday, June 18, 2012 at 9:48pm

A tweaked version of Mayor Karl Dean’s budget — one that still includes a property tax increase ­­— cleared the Metro Council’s Budget and Finance Committee Monday, giving it an edge at prevailing Tuesday for the full council’s final vote.

The 17-member committee voted unanimously Monday to approve a Councilman Sean McGuire-sponsored $1.71 billion substitute budget that retains the mayor’s original 53-cent property tax hike, but makes cuts totaling $8.6 million from Dean’s plan that would be diverted to the city’s rainy day funds. McGuire, who chairs the committee, introduced his alternative budget Friday.

“We could potentially be heading into another fiscal year that is difficult,” McGuire said. “My intention with putting some money away into reserves is to first make it so we don’t have to come back here again and ask for another property tax increase.

“Going into next year, we’ll have an $8.6 million head start on our budget, and a head start on our debt obligations,” he said, adding that it could also “go a long way” in improving Metro’s bond ratings.

The committee’s vote for a budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year came after a series of council members’ amendments — ranging from reducing Dean’s tax hike altogether, trimming it by 4.5 cents and cutting it by 12.5 cents — all failed.

The lone committee members to vote for each attempt to slice Dean’s tax increase were conservative council members Karen Bennett and Charlie Tygard, who also took exception with moving revenue to reserves.

“It makes no sense to me that at a time of recession — citizens suffering and struggling to make ends meet, our seniors on fixed income — that we would take money and put it in reserves for a future year,” Tygard said.

Monday’s vote, however, means the committee’s now-recommended budget and tax increase could have a healthy number of votes to gain final approval by the 40-member council Tuesday. The full council will again consider amendments to eliminate or lower Dean’s 53-cent property tax increase, but the odds might be stacked against them to succeed: Each attempt Monday to touch the tax hike was met with at least 13 of 17 possible committee votes to disapprove them.

“This essentially guts Metro government as we know it,” Councilman Ronnie Steine said of a budget brought forth by conservative Councilman Robert Duvall that required no tax increase. It failed by a 13-2 vote.

McGuire’s altered budget, which has now effectively replaced Dean’s first draft, would cut $3.5 million from Metro schools’ original proposed $46.5 million budget increase. Metro Codes, one of several departments with minor budget reductions, would get $200,000 less than Dean originally allocated while Metro Parks & Recreation would get $100,000 less.

Metro schools spokeswoman Meredith Libbey said the schools’ cut “will eliminate jobs, but the number and types of positions are not determined.”

The committee’s recommended budget also eliminates a $591,500 subsidy to Municipal Auditorium, a $200,000 subsidy to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds and a $148,800 subsidy to Nashville Farmers' Market. On ending such subsidies, McGuire said the council needs to stop “these enterprises from continuing to underperform” when they could come back at certain points to “make their case” for Metro dollars.

While Dean has said his initial budget “reflected the needs of this community,” he has also said that he appreciates the council’s emphasis on strengthening the city’s debt services. “If adopted, I am confident the budget as proposed by chairman McGuire will also keep our city moving forward.”

Budget amendments proposed by Tygard, Duvall as well as council members Steve Glover, Fabian Bedne and Phil Claiborne all suffered losses in committee Monday.

Tygard took the lead in challenging McGuire’s budget as the at-large councilman discussed his proposal to lower Dean’s 53-cent property tax increase by 12.5 cents and the overall budget by $23 million.

Council attorney Jon Cooper said Tygard’s proposal would save taxpayers $12 per month on a $300,000 house.

Among other areas, Tygard is seeking to reduce the Metro schools’ budget by $7.5 million, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s subsidy from $300,000 to $200,000 and eliminate a 4 percent pay increase for Metro employees that would save $16.3 million. Tygard has also offered a “bonus” for Metro workers who reside in Davidson County.

“I respect our employees,” Tygard said. “They work hard, but at this time, when so many of our citizens don’t have a job, to go ahead and make that commitment ... is just something I could not do.”

Others defended the employee pay increase, however. “Our city is only as good as the employees who work for us,” Councilman Jerry Maynard said, adding that they’ve had to sacrifice the last five years. “They’ve had to do more with little.” 

21 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 6/19/12 at 4:01

I sent the following to the entire council as well as the Tennessean letters to the editor.

Thus far, only two council members have had the integrity to respond. That speaks volumes about the character of our municpal leadership.

The Tennessean did not publish the letter. I don't whitewash their mayoral sweetheart, so no surprise there.

Much has been said and written on both sides of Mayor Dean's property tax proposal. Everyone has, in their mind anyway, perfectly reasonable grounds for supporting or opposing the increase. One local columnist pompously declared a city cannot be run as a business, and I, in a rare moment, actually agreed. I believe a city is more appropriately compared to a family, ideally dedicated to the fair treatment of all members and equitable distribution of resources.

From that perspective, I, as I suppose do many taxpayers, have questions.

How can Mayor Dean and Metro Council even consider increasing taxes of any sort when we are only beginning the shakiest of recovery from the worst recession in decades?

Worse, how can a justification be made concerning the increased costs of goods and services when the working class of Nashville can readily attest they themselves are all too familiar with the increase? Most severely affected are those families where unemployment has become a reality, or fear of job loss remains an ever present danger. Not to mention those who have seen unemployment benefits run out with no job prospects yet in sight. The working class of Nashville are very aware of the increase in costs, but have to make do in order to survive. The option to just demand more money from neighbors is not an option.

If education is a important as our municipal leadership has declared, why did Mayor Dean and Metro Council allow the schools to become so decrepit on their watch? Why did they ignore the deterioration while devoting so much time and energy to other perhaps questionable issues?

Likewise, if public safety is the high priority we are led to believe, why did Mayor Dean and Metro Council accept federal money without seeming to understand the conditions attached? Accepting money, knowing the city would be required to continue funding once the program expired, without planning to cover expenses with money already available is foolish. A citizen as careless with money as our leadership has been with our tax money would soon be in bankruptcy court, in my opinion.

If Mayor Dean and Metro Council knew all of these projects would need funding, why were they so free with tax incentives for businesses and granting so many subsidies? Would the better plan not be to cover essentials first, then move on to 'nice to have?'

Why is it, when politicians have overspent or misspent, the first cuts discussed are aimed at schools, public safety, and public services? If I mismanage my money like Metro leadership, I bite the bullet and suffer, so my family doesn't.

If Mayor Dean wishes to truly display courage regarding the budget, he would slash his pay, and that of all Metro senior leadership to a level equal to the median income in Metro. Reductions would be made at the upper levels so that no Metro employee who actually works and provides service to the public would be affected. That would be a truly courageous act dealing with money problems, not resorting to actions which would likely see an average citizen arrested for extortion or racketeering.

In the end, I perceive leadership in Nashville to be like teenagers, who have spent their all their money on items they wanted, and now, needing gas, tuition, and money for food, are coming to mom and dad with outlandish excuses expecting cash to flow freely. Or worse, our leaders strike me behaving like irresponsible parents, spending money on lavish luxury items, while ignoring the basic expenses for food, utilities, and mortgage or rent, then moaning because the money is spent before the month is over.

I urge Metro Council to show some intestinal fortitude and refuse Mayor Dean his increase.

If Metro Council still struggles with the budget, I suggest allowing some of Nashville's working class to review the spending. I'm almost certain the budget would be balanced and vital services retained. Politicians and their special interests might suffer severely, though.

If our council opts to pick our pockets, we need to end their political careers and work to impact negatively any business to which they are connected. They should become social outcasts in the communities in which they live.

It is up to the citizens.

By: spooky24 on 6/19/12 at 6:34

In any case you can take pride in a well written letter if it's ignored by the media. Whitesmoke gave you a 93 and that is excellent by their standards. My problem is the media refuses to print anything attempting to explain how the Farmers Market lost $313,000 of the taxpayer's money. Just flushed it down the toilet. Anyway it is a good letter.

sp

By: JayBee56 on 6/19/12 at 6:46

Arrogance, plain and simple. Are the citizens fired up enough to recall those who voted for the increase?

By: Rasputin72 on 6/19/12 at 6:55

Well, this tax increase is just another reason for families making less than $100,000 dollars a year to get out of the county.

By: Kosh III on 6/19/12 at 7:23

Eliminate the entire subsidy to the Chamber of Commerce. Can't these alleged "capitalists" and business people survive without a welfare check?

By: Kosh III on 6/19/12 at 7:26

Meanwhile, the Capital Improvement Budget proposes a 55 MILLION dollar expense for 2012-13 to build a new stadium for the Sounds.

THAT is what needs to be stopped. I used the online form to write to the whole Council expressing my opposition to this welfare scheme.
Not one replied.

By: Rasputin72 on 6/19/12 at 8:42

Kosh III Your post of 7:23 was the most thoughtful. No organization in this county is as self-centered as the Chamber of Commerce. Their efforts beget only themselves not the general population.

By: sharko20 on 6/19/12 at 10:46

On January 1, 2013 everyone's federal tax is going up, unless you are the 47% that doesn't pay income tax and that's only the beginning. Even those in the 10% bracket will go to 15%. Capital gains tax will rise and Obamacare taxes kick in as well. A total of 62 new taxes. I guess they didn't care or take this into account when they decided to steal another $100 mil from the private sector.

Property owners will have less money to spend or save as they wish. More theft by the left to pay for their bloated government. Raises for metro employees when wages across the country are flat and net worth has dropped 40% to 1992 levels. These council members are a disgrace.

By: BigPapa on 6/19/12 at 2:07

The VERY first thing Dean did when he took over as Mayor was renegociate the Preds a new deal where they received even more tax money from the city.

He didnt tackle schools, or teachers, or police, or parks, or side walks, or streets, or even trash pick up... it was writing a BIGGER check to a private business owned by multimillionaires who just didn't feel like losing their money on ice hockey.

That shows where the emphasis is with this bunch, UNTIL its time to cut, then it's "no police, no jails, no firemen..."

By: FLeFew on 6/19/12 at 2:36

Let me get this right ... We get the same tax increase, but put into the slush fund that can later (without the current publicity) be used for the Mayor's pet projects. I bet we are probably dumb enough to reelect this group.

We have elected council people from the 1% to milk the lowly taxpayers. They do not know that Obama's economy is in trouble. I know Dean has a wealthy wife, but I didn't know the rest of them are simularly fortunate.

By: jsabrown on 6/19/12 at 3:21

Hey, Sharko. The "47% pays not income tax" line is pretty disingenuous, since all you right-wing whack jobs want to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security, which are funded by the payroll taxes your assertion ignores.

You need a better new lie to parade around. This one is getting pretty ragged.

By: JeffF on 6/19/12 at 4:08

I think it is pretty strait forward, unless you think "income tax" equals "payroll tax". There is a whole lot of income not coming through payrolls in this country and 47% of people are not paying Federal Income Tax. If you ever earn a pay check I suggest that you look at the stub and not that income tax is a different line not combined with your glorious social safety net deductions.

47% of Americans do not pay income tax. Not a lie. A lot more truthful than any attempt to make them sound like people who contribute to society with the "but they pay medicare" whine. I'm sorry, but the economic bottom feeders do not deserve respect for deducting into the programs they suck even more out of.

By: JeffF on 6/19/12 at 4:09

strait - straight in the previous post by the way.

By: Shane Smiley on 6/19/12 at 5:24

I, like ask, posted a letter to our entire council and the Tennessean. I also only received two responses and was not published. My own councilman didn't even bother to respond. Below is the letter.

According to the Mayors office, nearly every department in Metro has been asked to do more with less over the past few years.
One exception to this rule has been the Nashville area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber has enjoyed a $300,000 annual subsidy from Metro while essential services have been asked to do with less.

My understanding is, Metro pays the Chamber $300,000 annually while the surrounding counties pay a total of $100,000.
Even though we are paying the lions share of the chamber budget, only 1/3 of the jobs being brought in to middle TN by Chamber involvement are coming to Metro.
3/4 of the cost and 1/3 of the results tells me the outlying counties need to step up to the plate and we need to reduce our contribution.

Yesterdays papers ran articles covering the Chamber SuccessPAC for education. The Chamber is backing candidates with contributions and endorsements. Some of these candidates receiving contributions are running un-apposed. Why would our Chamber be donating funds to an un-apposed candidate? To insure they do what the chamber wants once these candidates are in office?

The Chamber has been sticking it's nose and dollars into the political
arena on a regular basis. They even showed up at the Fairgrounds public hearing to appose the hub of our small business engine, sent out Emails in favor of redeveloping the Fairgrounds, and pushed members to show up and cold read pre written speeches written by Fairgrounds opposition.

If the Chamber members have the money to start a political Pac they don't need as many tax payer dollars.

If the Chamber is spending time and tax payer dollars to lobby against the will of the majority of Davidson County residents and business's, they should do it with no tax payer dollars.
Remember, the majority of voters, 77%, in the last election voted to keep the Fairgrounds events currently being held.
This vote is a clear illustration of the Chamber being out of touch with the people and business's of Davidson County and a solid reason why the Chamber should have its tax payer contribution slashed greatly or eliminated completely.

If they have money generated by the business community to support political campaigns, they can do without tax payer dollars and can focus the money from the business community on creating new jobs in Davidson County.

In my opinion, the Chamber subsidy should be cut to $100,000 annually or eliminated all together for the time being.
It is time for our contributions to be in line with the other counties and the job creation from these funds. Other counties have seen a windfall, time for them to pick up the slack.

By: sharko20 on 6/19/12 at 5:58

Brownie - Medicare and Social Security are BROKE. Payroll taxes, which fund these programs, were CUT by your messiah Obama. They are NOT federal income taxes.

Obama cut Medicare by $500 billion to pay for Obamacare. I know you hate it,, but entitlements must be reformed. YOU get your facts straight. You libs just can't do math.

A national debt of nearly $16 trillion, $5 trillion added by your leader Obama. Added to daily to the tune of $4 billion.

By: fedupwcowards on 6/19/12 at 11:41

Every Nashville Council Member EXCEPT the following voted FOR a 13% tax increase...

Jernigan
Bennett
Tenpenny
Evans
Dominy
Potts
Duvall
Mitchell

If your Council Member voted FOR the tax increase, please contact the Nashville Election Commission and find out how to pull recall papers to have your Council Member RECALLED out of office!!!

By: fedupwcowards on 6/20/12 at 9:03

I am beginning the process of setting up a political committee and PAC to begin a massive recall process of ALL councilors who increased our taxes. Who is supportive of this?

By: fedupwcowards on 6/20/12 at 10:59

Join the RECALL effort at www.moneycounts.us

By: royt5 on 6/20/12 at 12:13

How smart is it to have a rainey day fund that are actually politicians own personal piggy banks. Stupid!

By: fedupwcowards on 6/20/12 at 12:40

Do you support the Metro Council's decision to approve a 53-cent property tax increase in its next budget?

Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:
Yes 20%

No 80%

It is CLEAR that this council acted AGAINST the voters, citizens and taxpayers of Nashville.....Now it is time for voters, citizens and taxpayers to VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE by a RECALL effort.

Visit www.moneycounts.us to learn more and to join!!

By: TharonChandler on 6/23/12 at 1:31

cc to: editor, pr_sports, prison, oped, letters, mail, Marie, magazine, letters, bcc

If ever you find yourself participating in a public discussion as in college, as i have on occasion; or if ever you must run or compete for a high political office, such as Congressman or maybe barangay captain, then likely you will have to discuss or share your own opinions about bad topics such as Abortion. Abortion is a hot topic among some religious Catholics and among some women's rights groups; so also it must be discussed occasionally in high politics. As a man myself i have never had an abortion though i have had to mention the idea, in public forums.

The next think I would tell you in my thoughts about the concept of abortion is that i have never paid for one, I have Never performed one nor have i been a medical doctor, and i have not taken nor driven anyone to have any such a procedure. After that i would tell you that some religious groups and Catholic hierarchs take the concept very seriously and pontificly. Also, some young women have been ruined in their reproductive capacity not only by bad doctors performing abortions but by Doctors Stealing Ovaries (in my untrained perception/ suspicion).

Next i'll tell you that their are some young women very upset about this; ruin having happened to themself and as they must cope they are sometimes used by other women or leaders in a scheme 'to get back at Men'. There are some good women and there are some 'gay women' whom make a strategy out of hurting men, poisoning men, and also ruining men's sex life; all under the guise of corrective action but maybe under lucifer the devil because like any man the gay women like young ladies for themself, also. Among the many good , the sexy, and the intelligent women are also some women who were born crazy; some whom became crazy later, and some whom have been driven crazy. The worst are the kind who hate men for no good reason or would like to make up a reason. And then there are some bad men whom would help or even encourage them in this, or simply are so weak to let it happen among their wife.

The 'market' for such things as the ovaries of a fine young woman would be similar to the sale in 'blood', kidneys, and other body parts; it's a market most people don't think about but then some unwittingly become a victim within. Such a market is sad but true and quite unknown by me; known to me only by my suspicious perception and the reality i see around me. I also have been poisoned and otherwise sent down the road toward hospitalization; though they can't make me surrender, not yet, not here, and not in Canada. The Canadian boder patrol is rife with zealous catholic hierarchs, guarding their stock of filipina. They still do have me poisoned, occasionally, (the bad political group) and they even use fine young women along with the old fat ugly dyke women, to get at me.

Good luck to each of you in staying healthy and out of the bad markets. peace