Metro readies for 'historic' budget presentation

Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 1:40pm

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.


8 Comments on this post:

By: pandabear on 5/1/09 at 6:52

Here's an idea:

Forget the loser convention center idea and fund General Hospital.

Oh, and stop saying, "The tax rate is not going up" when you know
full well the tax BILL is going up 'cause you raise the tax assessment
on houses that are in the worst decline since the Great Depression !

What a manipulating snake.

By: carleydale on 5/1/09 at 8:44

Amen, Panda!! Given the looming pandemic of Swine Flu predicted for fall (yes, because it's predicted that the pig version of H1N1 will "jump" the DNA of the human version... just like in 1918. Wouldn't it be wiser and more efficient to have General "ready at the helm" for such a possibility?

By: skybolt on 5/1/09 at 8:52

pandabear -- you are incorrect. the bill will NOT go up. See this quote from Richard Rooker himself:

The county may not make a “profit” from the reappraisal process. If the appraisals for the entire county show an increase in overall property values, the property tax rate (the multiplier) is reduced to neutralize the gain. The discussion about the property tax rate continues from there. The Property Assessor’s office does not determine the final tax rate.

By: carleydale on 5/1/09 at 10:02

Dear Sky, unfortunately, you must not be aware that COUNCIL has the ability to raise the rate. The PA determines the value of your assets, but the real authority here lies w/in the Metro Council. Alas, they won't do it immediately, but keep at least one eye open at all times .... ;-)

By: B4real on 5/1/09 at 10:30

Dear Panda,
Dear Panda,
Wouldn't it be better for the Metro Health Department to be ready and geared up to assist in the treatment of the swine flu as opposed to General Hospital only. There are also other hospitals in the area who should be equipped to handle it as well. Although General is supplemented with city subsidy; it is not the only hospital to provide indigent care, as each hospital allows for a certain amount of charitable care. A lot of citizens are not aware of this fact, but it is a true one. General also does not only provide care for the indigent, it accepts all type patients including those with insurance and private pay, the same as all other hospitals. I realize that the convention center is a sore subject around the city and I am not hear to comment on that issue, but diverting the cost of it to pay for General Hospital is not the answer. The hospital needs new and better management to curb its loss and a better model to provide care for the underserved. That is what the new consultant company solicited by the mayor’s office will hopefully provide for the city and its citizens.

By: carleydale on 5/1/09 at 12:21

@B4real....LOL like your name should really apply to this topic in particular~

Infrastructure is sorely lacking right now. Economic depression will NOT help pay for your convention center, no matter how may psychedelic drugs you consume, so what little funds we have right now should be wisely doled out. I'm not suggesting all of it be paid towards General Hospital either, but we will need those doors open for all of the illegals that businesses have brought to our area if/when a pandemic should occur. I've been in Houston when other flu outbreaks were of concern, and it was HOURS before I could be seen in the ER. That was more than a decade ago, but I remember it quite vividly. When the time comes, you'll need every medical facility open and up to speed, starting with Meharry/General. ;-)

And more to the point, bond ratings are down, if you've been watching that particular market as many of us have been doing lately. Therefore, there is less investment accordingly. Good luck with that~

By: carleydale on 5/1/09 at 12:22

Oops... "no matter how MANY psychedelic drugs" (I need to proofread before I post)

By: Anna3 on 5/2/09 at 12:16

AND.......Mayor Dean is STILL building his Billion Dollar Boondoggle...the Convention Center. What a dips__t !