The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is nothing more than a “political pawn” a rookie Metro councilman tweeted Monday in response to the chamber’s endorsement of Mayor Karl Dean’s property tax increase proposal last week.
District 13 Councilman Josh Stites, elected last fall, has earned a reputation for turning to Twitter to express his political views. Following the chamber and the Great Nashville Association of Realtors’ decisions to support the mayor’s tax hike, Stites chimed in on one of his Twitter accounts .
Asked about his comments, Stites said, “I don’t think their support of the tax increase is reflective of their memberships. So, why else would they be supporting the tax increase?”
Chamber officials did not return an email that asked whether the group would like to respond to Stites’ tweets.
The council approved Dean’s 53-cent increase to the property tax rate on first reading Tuesday, a move that was made procedurally to move the proposal to committee. The mayor’s proposed $1.71 billion budget also cleared a first of three required votes Tuesday.
Stites was one of a handful of anti-tax council members who voted for the increase for procedural reasons. He seems likely to vote against the measure when it comes up on second reading in June.
“The problem that I have with the tax increase is (1) it’s a significant tax increase,” he said. “It’s very significant. This is a bad time. ... There are a lot of people, especially in District 13, who are living paycheck to paycheck, and they’re having the hardest time they’ve had in 30 years.”
Ironically, as the Tennessean pointed out in a report, Stites received the endorsements of both the GNAR and chamber-backed Nashville Business Coalition during his election campaign.