Passionate Dean paints picture of students in need during tax-hike homestretch

Monday, June 11, 2012 at 5:58pm

Aging Antioch Middle School has broken windows, shuttered ramshackle classrooms and a hallway that “just smells bad” because of mold, a passionate Mayor Karl Dean said Monday, entering the homestretch of his push for a property tax increase.

“Look in the face of those young kids, who are working so hard trying to get ahead, and say, ‘Is this good enough for you?’ ” Dean said, recounting a recent trip to Antioch Middle, a school built in the Harry Truman era with a student population primed to explode. “I couldn’t do it.

“We shouldn’t,” Dean added.

Before the Downtown Rotary Club Monday, Dean delivered a 35-minute final word on his proposed 53-cent property tax increase before the Metro Council is asked to weigh in on his $1.71 billion budget as soon as June 19. The speech’s central theme was a continuation of Dean’s fundamental case for a tax hike: After years of minimal government growth Metro’s budget lacks anymore “fat” to cut. Meanwhile, needs have mounted, he’s contended.

“If I could have avoided proposing a tax increase, I would have done it,” Dean said. “I realize no one’s happy when someone talks about increasing taxes. I have neighbors who aren’t happy. I have family members who aren’t happy. And I have friends who aren’t happy.”

Dean’s speech, which offered familiar arguments for investing in education and public safety, had a personal touch when he discussed trips he made last week to schools in southeastern Davidson County.

This fast-growing area is home to several school building renovation projects thanks to a $297 million capital plan, a third of which is devoted to school infrastructure. Antioch Middle, which operates out of Metro’s oldest utilized school building, is poised to grow from 470 to 750 students next year. Dean’s capital plan includes $11 million for its renovation.

Dean, without identifying a name, highlighted a pro-tax hike speaker from last week’s Metro Council public hearing on his proposed budget to put Metro’s public school needs in perspective.

“He talked about a private school in the city that over the last few years has been running a capital campaign for their own needs of about $100 million,” Dean said. “That’s for 800 students. We’re talking about $100 million for about 80,000 students.”

Dean pointed to Metro’s reduced dropout rate and rising graduation rate as reasons for optimism in the city’s public schools. He said Director of Schools Jesse Register has “not received enough credit” for tapping new principals at “troubled” schools, referencing the installment of Robbin Wall at McGavock High School, among other new hires.

“Schools aren’t where we want them to be,” Dean said. “But, progress is being made. I can say, without question, they’re better off than they were four years ago.”

Still, Dean said there’s “more work we need to do” as he argued the starting salary of Metro teachers should be raised from $35,000 to $40,000, a plan ensured through his tax increase. “It will make us a much more competitive city when it comes to attracting teachers,” Dean said.

“A good teacher can turn a kid’s life around, and a bad teacher will put them back,” he said.

In discussing public safety, Dean credited the Metro Nashville Police Department for reducing Nashville’s homicide level, which is at a 45-year low. Dean claimed Nashville’s crime rate is also on the decline.

“That came from us making this a priority,” Dean said, whose hoping to use additional tax revenue to retain 50 officers hired from an expiring federal COPS grant. If Metro does not retain these officers, it would owe the federal government $7.5 million.

“If we don’t do a tax increase, the fact is that of the 50 officers we got from the COPS grant, they will have to be let go,” he said. “And the fact is, if we do that, then we would have to pay back the federal government $7.5 million.”

23 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 6/11/12 at 4:51

Pure unadultered bullcrap!

By: breathofdeath on 6/11/12 at 7:22

Obviously Joey didn't do his homework when writing this article. Antioch Middle operates out of Metro's oldest utilized school building? HA!!! That building opened in 1948, while Hume Fogg was built in 1912, West End in 1937, and Cameron in 1939. Eakin was using their current building when my mother went there in the 1930's. There are other buildings still serving as schools that predate the Antioch facility. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!

By: JayBee56 on 6/11/12 at 9:23

Wah, wah, wah. What have this and previous administrations been doing with all the money they receive? This is not a problem of a lack of money. It is a problem of not being accountable with the money received. Someone has not made this a priority and now it's being used to get more tax money. After the taxes are raised, they will conveniently "forget" about these and countless other needs. Taxpayers are tired of this song and dance/bait and switch.

By: Shadow63 on 6/11/12 at 11:25

Oh god, next he'll be trotting out puppis and little fuzzy kittens.
Where's the 2 billion lotto money?

By: Shadow63 on 6/11/12 at 11:32

“If we don’t do a tax increase, the fact is that of the 50 officers we got from the COPS grant, they will have to be let go,” he said. “And the fact is, if we do that, then we would have to pay back the federal government $7.5 million.”

This was known when the money was accepted, and sticking the property owners was always part of the plan.

By: sharko20 on 6/11/12 at 11:36

North Dakota votes to eliminate ALL property tax!!! Davidson County is going in the opposite direction. Cities around the country are cutting their budgets. Get a grip Karl Marx Dean.

By: MetalMan on 6/12/12 at 4:55

I'm not a veterinarian, but I know bull$hit when I see it.

By: spooky24 on 6/12/12 at 6:20

Antioch High was a mess when I graduated many years ago. Froze our butts off in winter , sweated in the spring. Still didn't stop our senior class from 95% graduation.

sp

By: Rocket99 on 6/12/12 at 6:46

Have they ever heard of preventative maintenance? It's a proven fact that its less expensive to maintain a building than to wait until it is falling apart and then try and fix it because you have to.

As far as the 50 police go, when Metro received the grant, they knew there was a end date on that funding. When grants like this are given out, the receiving entity is suppose to plan on how to assume the full cost when the grant ends or terminate where necessary. It looks like Metro needs to terminate because they did not plan properly.

We as the ones who are funding all of this should not be made to feal guilty and give in just because they (Metro) did not plan properly. The State has been going through a major belt tightening over the last several years resulting in a sizeable reduction in the State workforce. Metro needs to do the same.

While the State government was cutting back, Metro kept growing. Now it's time for them to trim and run more efficienctly just like the State.

I'm sorry that people will be loosing their jobs but, I know sever well qualified, hard working State employees who are now out of work because of reduced budgets and funding.

Metro, WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!

By: tdterry1999 on 6/12/12 at 7:02

Sell the new Convention Center and you'll have the money to fix the schools.You will never turn a profit off it anyway.

By: itsmyfirstday on 6/12/12 at 7:08

Dean says these kids need help...so he is going to raise the taxes on their parents??

By: FaceBook:Emmett... on 6/12/12 at 7:52

Yes. more of the "for the children" twaddle.

By: Kosh III on 6/12/12 at 7:58

Mr Mayor,

Put your money where your mouth is and put YOUR kids in public school. After you do that we might put more faith in what you say.

Sell LP Field to Bud Adams: let the Titans pay for their own playpen and use the proceeds to fund NECESSARY services.

There are Metro departments that we may not need: Beer Permit Board, Agricultural Extension Board, Soil Conservation Board, Sports Authority, Metro Action to name a few.

By: playthegame on 6/12/12 at 8:06

Where is all the money Register saved the school district? He cut the support workers who could have kept up with run down schools through proper maintenance. What happened to the money from the Central Office re-organization? Where are the savings from all the programs that were supposed to save the tax payers money?

By: Vuenbelvue on 6/12/12 at 9:21

Every mayor since Bredesen, each 2 term mayors, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the same thing Mayor Dean is advocating except he is doing Storm water and waste water renovation/additions mandated by the US Government and the 4th convention center Metro has. He pleads for school money but hides the lite rail $175 million starter fund.
I resent, as a parent of a autistic son who graduated from Hillwood HS special education in 2005, his starting this campaign with fear of firing teacher's aides for the disabled. Typical Politician where there is no low to far to go.
The answer is Grow Dope Plant a politician. Before council votes for another $100-200 million dollars of debt one of you need to tell us before the third reading how much debt Metropolitan Davidson County government has on the ledger including pensions and health care. How much is the debt service per centage? 8% or closer to 20%?
Playthegame I think if someone checked they will find Mr. Register gets paid more per student than his peers in the State of California that make up his $250,000 salary plus perks.

By: jasonweaver on 6/12/12 at 10:41

If Dean truly cared about the state of schools, he wouldn't have given HCA and Gaylord huge tax breaks.

By: pswindle on 6/12/12 at 11:40

The collected taxes will go to the Charter Schools that are planned, and they will walk off with he bulk of the money. Help the kids?

By: TRHJR on 6/12/12 at 12:13

You tax payers are on the hook ! that is a liberal answer to everything throw money at it ... first , blame this SCHOOL BOARD , look who is on the board , about all
x-teachers ... why don`t these slugs get off their behinds ... go look @ these schools
not now the cows have run out of the barn ....
next you tax payers let Dean build that pink elephant ( convention center ) you voted the fellow in now swallow it .... you are right belvue TYPICAL POLITICIAN

SPEND SOMEBODYS MONEY

By: yucchhii on 6/12/12 at 1:19

"Passionate"? Yeah, he's passionate alright..to put MORE money into his pocket!! How about COMpassion for the HOMELESS? This is something he does NOT have. It is OBVIOUS!! I've seen it!! The tax hike would mean landlords have to RAISE the rents and many people CAN'T afford that...that means MORE people becomming homeless. Those who think that they will NEVER be homeless, see you at the Nashville rescue mission...I can PROMISE you that you need to get rid of that "I'll never be homeless" attitude.......NOW!!!! If you don't, you will be seriously wishing you had!!!

By: tacos34 on 6/12/12 at 2:49

Nashville City Paper comments: where I go to read what uninformed people think about complex issues

By: Shadow63 on 6/12/12 at 3:28

He wasn't thinking of those poor kids when he was giving away our trax money to Sports teams and amusement parks and convention centers and hotels and....
One might think they deliberately let those facilities deteriorate in order to have something to point to when they want more tax money They sure don't point to them when they want to give our tax money to their fat cat friends.
Where's the $2billion in lotto winnings for the schools we keep hearing about on the TV commercials?

By: Shadow63 on 6/12/12 at 3:28

He wasn't thinking of those poor kids when he was giving away our trax money to Sports teams and amusement parks and convention centers and hotels and....
One might think they deliberately let those facilities deteriorate in order to have something to point to when they want more tax money They sure don't point to them when they want to give our tax money to their fat cat friends.
Where's the $2billion in lotto winnings for the schools we keep hearing about on the TV commercials?

By: Sylvan Park on 6/13/12 at 11:39

Wow, all great comments! Glad to know there are Davidson County residents who pay attention and care about the FACTS - not the crap being offered up by the Mayor and apparently being ingested by the city council. Can we implement an IQ test for future Council elections?