No tax increase in Mayor's budget

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 10:38am

Working with less revenue than the year before for the first time in the history of Metro, Mayor Karl Dean’s administration unveiled an operating budget Friday featuring layoffs, department cuts and other cost-saving measures, but no property tax increases for Nashville residents.

Dean’s finance aide Richard Riebeling presented a budget to Metro Council that included layoffs in the neighborhood of 150 employees, to go along with the elimination of about 200 vacant positions.

Riebeling insisted the cuts would not mean elimination of any Metro services and said the budget reflected the administration’s top values of schools and public safety.

Riebeling said revenues from sales tax collections and development fees were down about $28 million this fiscal year, which complicated the budgeting process. Most Metro departments will receive cuts of about 10 percent to close the gap.

It will mean shortened operating hours for community centers and libraries, among other Metro facilities.

The administration is also calling for a Metro-wide salary freeze and skipping the longevity bonuses due certain veteran employees this year.

Additionally, Dean is calling for eliminating the Metro fleet by 10 percent and completely eliminating departments’ travel allowance. The combined savings of those measures is about $5 million and means keeping dozens of Metro jobs, Riebeling said.

Public safety departments like Metro Police and the Nashville Fire Department will take two percent budget reductions, which will come without laying off any officers or firefighters in the field, Riebeling said.

Also receiving a 10 percent cut was the Metro Hospital Authority, which includes Metro General Hospital at Meharry. Riebeling said General Hospital could absorb the cut without a reduction in services.

The one department for which Dean proposed an increase in budget was the Metro Transit Authority. Riebeling said the increase would be used to maintain routes, implement the Bus Rapid Transit system on Gallatin Road and introduce a circulator route around downtown.

Last year, proposed cuts to MTA received public pushback and $1 million was restored to the department’s budget by Metro Council.

The administration also announced that it would introduce a brand new capital spending plan for all Metro capital projects next week. Among the projects expected to be included are a new DNA lab for Metro Police, a new connector road joining Jefferson Street to West End Avenue in addition to riverfront redevelopment.

Council will begin its budget and finance committee meetings with Metro departments next week.

3 Comments on this post:

By: BenDover on 5/1/09 at 9:11

Is this a press release?

No tax increase, my @$$. My reassessment went up almost 20% and this during a time when property values were either stagnate or falling.

The intent of the state law on reassessment was that it be revenue neutral but Dean has given himself a great big fat increase in revenues by adjusting the revenue neutral rate back up to the previous rate on a much higher overall property assessment; then he claims there’s been no increase. Now he’s starting a political campaign of poor-talk cutting services and the like so he can generate support for another increase in the future. Ludicrous!

By: NashvilleAdam on 5/1/09 at 3:03

The above article includes this phrase, "...but no new property tax increases for Nashville residents." Here's the rest of the story...YOUR TAX BILL WILL STILL INCREASE. This is because George Rooker, the Assessor of Property, just appraised all properties in Davidson County upward--you may think your property is worth less in a NATIONAL RECESSION, but not according to George Rooker. Go to http://www.padctn.com/; click the on the words "Property Data" or just call George Rooker's Office, 862-6059; you will find that your property is worth thousands more today than last year and that YOUR PROPERTY TAX BILL HAS INCREASED.

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

Let me get this straight...we have less revenue than last year...check!...We are not going to "Raise Taxes"...check!....We are going to have to cut a few hundred jobs...check!...and Mayor Dean is still going ahead with this BILLION DOLLAR Convention Center??? What a DORK!