Councilman organizes 'roundtable' meetings to discuss budget proposal

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 7:09pm

Metro Councilman Steve Glover has organized a pair of “roundtable” discussions at his office this weekend to pore over Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed budget with council colleagues and perhaps identify ways to reduce the mayor’s proposed 53-cent property tax increase.

“If you knew me on the school board, I’m obviously always looking at ways we can try to be a little more efficient and operate more efficiently,” said Glover, who recently wrapped up a term as a Metro school board representative. “So, that’s obviously the objective here.”

Glover’s first budget discussion, at his office at 1101 Kermit Drive, suite 610, is set for Sat., June 9, at 1:30 p.m. The second meeting is the following day at the same location and time. Both meetings are open to the public.

“The real nature of the meetings is to say, ‘Alright, if we cut here, what might be the implications, what might be the unintended consequences?’ ” Glover added. “When you’re sitting at a roundtable, you can kind of just throw it all out there.”

This weekend continues a series of meetings the Donelson-area councilman has organized following the mayor’s May 1 tax increase announcement and budget presentation for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Glover said approximately “10 or 11” council members have stopped by for at least one of his meetings, including: Josh Stites, Davette Blalock, Jason Holleman, Scott Davis, Duane Dominy, Jacobia Dowell, Sheri Weiner, Charlie Tygard and Brady Banks.

In addition to some of those representatives, Glover said he expects the attendance of Councilman Carter Todd, and the council’s Budget and Finance Committee chair Sean McGuire this weekend.

“We just talk,” Glover said. “We share things. We ask questions.”

The council’s formal budget discussions are led by the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, which is tasked with holding hearings with Metro departments before later recommending a final budget and property tax levy to the full council.

“The rule of thumb is, ‘No voting’ because it’s not a committee,” Glover said. “We do not want to interfere with any committee work that the council does.”

Nonetheless, some council observers are looking toward Glover’s roundtable to perhaps produce an alternative to Dean’s tax rate increase, potentially lowering the increase by a few pennies.

“I admire his effort,” said Councilman Robert Duvall, a tax increase opponent. “At least he’s trying to do something.”

Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors, who presides over council meetings, said she has no problem with Glover’s roundtable approach. “Any council member can meet with any council member about anything as long as they give adequate public notice,” she said.

“I encourage all council members to work within the committee structure and with the committee chairs, so hopefully they’re working in cooperation.”

4 Comments on this post:

By: JohnGalt on 6/8/12 at 9:43

Though interesting, these meetings are a fools errand. The Mayor has played the council like a violin by not leaving really enough time between submitting his budget and the deadline to allow for anything but what he demands.

It is evident that he knowingly all along, with the Council's complicity, made no provision to pay the police officers hired with a federal grant with long strings asttached after the grant runs out. He obviously intended to pay them through a tax increase while threatening their loss along with two hundred additional officers.

Were Dean on the New York stage he would be nominated for a Tony.

By: govskeptic on 6/8/12 at 8:29

After sleeping and reading through the "Public Hearings" this week, not
a single serious amendment has been offered to the Mayor's budget.
by any council members. Of course, it can be amended on 3rd reading,
but it appears a huge majority has given their approval, so this
proposed roundtable meeting is for a few to do some posturing for
the public and more importantly the media! Start saving up for your
extra $300.00+ expenditure!

By: sharko20 on 6/9/12 at 4:15

Look at the recent votes this week in Wisconsin and California council members. Try taking a page out of their book instead of robbing property owners. Cut the fat and waste out of the budget. We're tired of paying the tab for your glorified and wasteful spending. Davidson County residents wake up and vote these people out and replace them with some fiscally responsible members.

By: Ask01 on 6/10/12 at 8:15

The 'roundtable' is a sham. Mere smoke and mirrors to convince the more simple minded public and conscience troubled councilmembers there is no other way out of the current troublesd economy. A financial morass of their own making, I might add.

"The arguments supporting the tax increase are simple and even sophmoric."

The cost of, well, everything has risen. For those politicians not affected, allow me to reassure you Nashville citizens are well aware of the fact. Especially those touched by the recession having to deal with loss of employment, no pay raises, and extreme belt tightening.

"Public education, services, and safety will suffer."

Why should they? These areas will suffer ONLY if cuts are made at the 'tip of the spear' so to speak, where actual interaction is performed. I propose cutting at the other end. Lay off upper management and clerical staff. In fact, here is a proposal I suspect neither Mayor Dean nor any Metro Councilmember has the intestinal fortitude to address. Any metro employee elected or hired, even the Mayor, earning above the median income for Davidson County, should have their pay reduced to that amount.

While I'm on the subject, if Education is so important to Mayor Dean and Metro Council, why did our esteemed leadership allow the deterioration of public schools to advance so deeply? This decline did not happen overnight, and is the result of chronic neglect. This naturally begs the question of where all the other tax increases meant for "the children" were spent? Money does not guarantee smart students by any stretch, but it does provide adequate, perhaps excellent facilities.

As for public safety, if Mayor Dean and the Council did not realize there were strings attached to a federal gift, they should be impeached immediately for gross incompetence. If when accepting the money, there was knowledge of the consequences for not continuing the program with local money, and knowing the recession had no end in sight, the money should have been politely turned down. This is the fault of government, not the people, so government should suffer the consequences at the leadership level.

A city is like a family. Families must prioritize their spending, taking care of necessities first before purchasing niceties. We don't have a plasma television with theater sound because the basics come first. We don't loan money or give charity when we are on a strict budget ourselves, so why does government believe it proper to give tax breaks to companies who have as yet done nothing for Nashville? They might give us jobs, you say. Might is a fairly uncertain word. Let them prove themselves first, providing jobs, recruiting from Metro Nashville residents, and display extreme civic responsibility, then we can dole out one time tax breaks as rewards for service.

Tax money never goes fully for projects and services politicians argue the funds are need. My perception is just enough is spent to fool or satisfy the public then pet projects are funded.

Mayor Dean was call courageous for proposing a tax hike. I guess some people have a different definition than I do.

True courage would be displayed by cutting head count at the top and reducing salaries of those too long feeding at the public trough.

Considering the track record of Nashville politicians, I suspect we will all need to prepare for the shakedown to come.