Overshadowed by budget vote, Todd and Tygard bills deferred

Friday, June 22, 2012 at 1:47pm

Overshadowed by approval of a property tax increase, the Metro Council voted Tuesday to defer legislation that would end lifetime insurance for council members and a bill requiring future Metro workers to live in Davidson County.

Councilman Carter Todd, who represents parts of Green Hills and Forest Hills, is the sponsor of an ordinance that would end a policy — often seen as a perk — that allows former two-term council members to continue to buy into the council’s subsidized health care plan after they leave office.

“We have a moral duty as citizens to make sure that government is run as efficiently as possible,” Todd said at Tuesday’s council meeting, especially as the council is making residents pay higher taxes, he added.

But after the council’s Budget and Finance Committee voted 3-2 — with 10 members not voting — to recommended disapproval of the bill earlier in the week, Todd asked that his bill be deferred by one meeting. A second of three votes is set for July 3.

At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard, meanwhile, has drafted legislation that would require all new Metro workers to either live in Davidson County or move there within 90 days of being hired. The bill includes waivers for workers who need to work elsewhere for special circumstances, such as taking care of a relative, and a waiver in the event qualified individuals aren’t found for a job.

“In this economy, with the number of people that are begging for jobs and wanting jobs, I think it is appropriate to ask them to live in the county,” Tygard said Tuesday.

Tygard’s proposal, which would reinstitute a policy that Metro held until the mid-1990s, was deferred Tuesday until July. On Tuesday, it triggered a wide range of viewpoints in the council.

Council attorney Jon Cooper said Memphis is the only municipality in Tennessee he’s aware of that has a similar in-county requirement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll tell you straight up: I don’t want to be like Memphis,” At-large Councilman Tim Garrett said, prompting laughter in the chambers. “I spent 20 years in the legislature, and I didn’t want to be like Memphis up there either.”

But At-large Councilman Jerry Maynard said he supports the move. “No one has been a stronger supporter of Metro employees than myself,” he said, adding that he’s spoken to police officers and firefighters who live in Davidson County. “They don’t like it that half the firefighters live outside Davidson County.”

Maynard said the requirement is “the equitable thing to do” during a time when city workers will receive a 4 percent pay increase as a result of Davidson County’s newly enacted property tax increase.

At-large Councilwoman Megan Barry disagreed, suggesting it would shrink Metro’s pool of quality employee candidates. “When you’ve got an EMT or a firefighter or a police officer, you want the best candidate. And that candidate might live in Sumner County. That candidate might live in Rutherford County.

“I want people to be in Davidson County because they want to be, not because we force them to be,” she said.

11 Comments on this post:

By: WickedTribe on 6/22/12 at 1:06

I really like both these bills. There is no excuse for deferring them.

And Megan Barry, when unemployment is less than 4%, you would have a point. Now, with 9.8% unemployment in Davidson county, you don't.

By: WickedTribe on 6/22/12 at 1:42

Correction, it's 6.7% in Davidson county TN. Still, too high.

By: Ask01 on 6/22/12 at 5:07

Now I believe this would be a way to save money and allow Metro Councilmembers to demonstrate their solidarity with the working voters of Nashville who do not have access to a similar subsidized health plan.

After all, is this not the same council who supported Mayor Dean's whining plea that the city would have to cut funding for education and public safety? Did they consider cutting this perk when looking for alternatives?

As far as requiring Metro employees to live in Davidson County, I can support that proposal. If an individual is receiving tax funded payments, why can we not require them to reside within the boundaries of the county paying their salary? I understand welfare recipients will now be required to pass drug screening to receive benefits, so why not establish residency requirements for employment?

How much dedication can we expect from someone who works for the county when they wouldn't live there?

By: odie on 6/22/12 at 11:07

1. All taxable property in Davidson County is being taxed, this changes only who is paying. It it does not create new properties for employees to live or raise income to government
2. Employees are paid for a service by citizens using and benefiting from that service; does it ever become their money?
3. Employees have had their pay frozen for three years, they have sacrificed long before this tax increase was proposed; meeting obligations goes a long way for dedication
4. No one cares where someone lives when the ambulance shows up when you need it
5. Everyone wants government to run like a business; improvements in quality for items like schools mght keep employees in the county
6. just because you can blog about how you would do a government job better doesn't mean you can do the job

By: govskeptic on 6/23/12 at 6:59

Tygard can attempt or pretend to adjust the paid insurance benefit for council
members but it's for his political future only. He will always be tied to it's
inception and loosening the bill even further by shortening the time required
just to help his lawyer friend former councilman Dread! Any relief from this
ripoff will be constantly put off by council till the smoke or chatter against
it dies down, then dropped!

By: Vuenbelvue on 6/23/12 at 8:22

A council person got back to my question yesterday. As of this week, ending 6-22-2012 Total debt for Davidson county is $1.9 billion dollars.
That is before the new budget was approved with its borrowing to provide all the things we need to be a progressive city. That number may not include: all pensions since Metro does a line item in the annual budget to pay pensions. Please correct me if I am wrong. That number may not include all of the $1 billion dollar 10 year storm water- sewer improvements. That may be included in the quarterly tax bill we get from Metro water.
Producer 2 should be able to clarify this since he is more involved with the budget and city plans.
But what's $2 billion. It is only a number.

By: Ask01 on 6/23/12 at 9:21

No one denies taxes are, unfortunately, the fuel which drives the municipal engine.

Much as I would like, the city needs money to operate.

The problem I have, which, despite expressing my concerns, no one has addressed sufficiently, is tax money being spent, and council time being wasted, on all manner of issues aside from those Mayor Dean and Metro Council targeted for cuts in a budget battle.

What 'nice to have' projects, public art, landscaping, and the like, could have been defered to avoid a tax increase?

How much time and effort did Mayor Dean and Metro Council waste trying to erase the fairgrounds and speedway? How much did it cost maintaining the facade of public debate on MCC and the budget when they had already made up their minds, but realized just approving these without allowing the public an ultimately futile voice would have been bad PR?

What other needless or pointless issues distracted them, resulting in allowing public education facilities to degrade so badly? Why did our feculent leadership(?) wait til the 11th hour to address the issue positions created through federal funding requiring either continuation or payback?

The biggest problem Metro Nashville leadership, a term I use laughingly, faces is prioritizing their spending. I know many envision Nashville as an upcoming Atlanta, Charlotte, or some other enormous urban cesspool, but wonder how many of their constituents share such a nightmare?

One problem, from my perspective, is voters are so distrustful of politicians, and jaded by the seemingly broken and mangled process, they often conclude there is no point in getting involved.

I am just one person expressing an opinion, but I wonder how many who never visit internet sites share my view?

Sadly for the people, but luckily for politicians violating their public trust, we'll likely never know.

By: Ask01 on 6/23/12 at 9:28

Senior moment here. Sorry, but this totally slipped my mind in the midst of my rant.

I did actually receive a reply from one councilmember about the e-mail I sent destroying Mayor Dean's justification for a tax increase. This was not my representative, but someone I knew pre-election, and for whom I once had respect.

A once seemingly normal, level headed person, the response was so much political claptrap, parroting the party line, ignoring my accusations Mayor Dean and Metro Council ignored problems until a breaking point was reached, then deciding our wallets were the only answer.

It was sad to see the degenration of an individual from a thinking, concerned citizen to a mindless, conniving politician.

By: syslviahix on 6/24/12 at 5:19

I also think that the council needs to be smaller in numbers. I believe I heard that we are third in the U.S. in the size of our council. We don't need as many councilmen as we have, in my opinion. The Charter needs to be changed concerning this issue. And the Charter also needs to be changed about the fact that if the Council doesn't pass a budget, it automatically goes into effect. That is ludicrous, to say the least.

By: Ask01 on 6/25/12 at 4:29

I agree with changing the budget process.

If the council doesn't pass a budget by a certain date, the city should have to live with the same budget for another year.

To make the process even more interesting, we should examine allowing the citizens to vote on the proposed budget each year, not just when a proposed tax increase crosses a threshold. This will prevent a shyster mayor from setting increases just below the threshold, believing his mindwashed minions will follow him over the cliff.

By: Kosh III on 6/25/12 at 6:35

"How much dedication can we expect from someone who works for the county when they wouldn't live there?"

About as much as the dedication to public schools from "leaders" who send their kids to a restricted private school. Yeah you Dean!

Police and Fire personnel should definitely live in Metro as should the rest of the employees.