When Tim Garrett and Ronnie Steine say they’ve never seen an operating budget season like the one Metro is entering into, it certainly says something.
The venerable at-large Council members have been serving off and on since the 1980s.
“It’s historic in the sense that our revenues are going to be less than they were the previous year,” said Steine, a fixture at Metro department budget hearings with Mayor Karl Dean.
Dean prefaced many of those hearings by referring to the upcoming fiscal year’s budget as historic. Dean also promised cuts for Metro departments, perhaps including even Metro Police and Metro Schools, his top priorities.
Dean will make his budget presentation in front of Metro Council Friday morning.
Garrett agreed he’s never seen budget hearings look so bleak.
“We’re going to have to do more with less,” Garrett said after the Schools budget hearing.
For the first time since 1993, there won’t be a property tax increase in the same year as property reappraisals. Property Assessor George Rooker said values are up an average of 15 percent throughout Davidson County. That means the state will adjust the certified tax rate to about $4.13 per $100 of property value.
In each of the last four reappraisal years, mayors have raised taxes, but Dean promised not to do so last week.
That means cuts to Metro departments, most of which were already depleted after last year’s budget reductions. Dean asked departments to show him what a 10 percent cut would like during budget hearings. For almost every Metro department, including schools, layoffs are likely.
There were about 200 layoffs for Metro employees last year, but by eliminating open positions and moving workers to other departments only about 30 individuals lost their jobs.
Dean will make his budget presentation at 9 a.m. in the Council chambers at the historic Metro Courthouse. Metro Council will begin its budget hearings with departments next week.