The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors has voiced its support for Mayor Karl Dean’s property tax hike, one week before the plan heads to the Metro Council for its first of three votes.
“We applaud Mayor Dean for making the necessary spending cuts over the past four years in order to avoid raising taxes during the economic downturn,” Bert Mathews, who chairs the chamber’s board of directors, said in an endorsement statement.
“But it’s clear that we must remain competitive and ensure Nashville’s continued economic growth, and this budget moves us in that direction.”
Dean has proposed increasing the property tax rate in the Urban Services District from $4.13 to $4.66, a plan that would increase the bills of taxpayers by 13 percent while generating more than $100 million in revenues.
After four years of modest cuts in Metro government, an overall reduction of $59 million, Dean is trying to make the case for investments in items such as higher teacher pay and long-neglected infrastructure. The alternative, he’s maintained, is “draconian cuts.”
Dean has filed a tax levy ordinance, which outlines the property tax increase, along with a separate ordinance for a proposed $1.71 billion budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Both are slated for first reading before the council on May 15.
During his four-plus years in office, Dean and the chamber have proven to be allies on most issues –– most notably, both pushed for financing of Music City Center.
According to a chamber statement, chamber officials believe proposed budget is closely aligned with the organization’s priorities, which include: funding for Metro Schools, job creation efforts, economic development incentives, expansion of the public transit system and continued development of downtown.
The press release added, “The Nashville Chamber’s board of directors has endorsed past tax adjustments when they have been determined to align with the community’s economic development strategy. Previous tax adjustments have funded the renovation of schools, the building of Bridgestone Arena, construction of the downtown library and expansion of the Police Department.”