State considers measure that would ‘gut’ Metro, empower satellite cities

Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 6:31pm

Capitol Hill lawmakers are expected to decide next week whether to move forward on a plan to weaken the Metro Nashville government structure in the same year the county celebrates the arrangement’s 50th anniversary.

The proposal, brought by a handful of cities in Davidson County, would allow towns falling under a metro form of government to provide their own services, like a court system, police service and public school system.

“For Nashville and Davidson County, this bill would gut a system that has been very successful in eliminating duplicative government and has become a national model for other local governments,” Mayor Karl Dean said in a letter to Davidson County lawmakers Thursday urging them to help defeat the bill. “It is only too ironic that this bill is being introduced as we celebrate Metro’s 50th anniversary.”

Any changes to the charter should happen by referendum, which is how the charter was approved in the first place, added Dean.

Rep. Joe Carr, a Lascassas Republican, said the intent is to update the laws and give municipalities an opportunity to provide the services they feel their cities need.

“The charter from 50-some years ago hasn’t kept up with the needs of the communities,” said Rep. Joe Carr who is cosponsoring the bill and said the proposal would update Metro Nashville’s consolidated government system. “I don’t know why anybody would be opposed to that.”

The legislation would largely affect Davidson County, which is home to satellite cities like Belle Meade, Berry Hill, Goodlettsville, Forest Hills and Oak Hill. Nearby Trousdale County and Moore County also operate under a metro form of government and would be affected.

In December, a Davidson County chancellor ruled that a court system Forest Hills had set up to enforce its city ordinances was illegal because it violated the Metro charter.

The charter, approved 50 years ago, folded cities within the county’s borders into one government system. The charter specifies that the cities could continue offering the same public services they did at the time — such as police, public works and trash pick up in Belle Meade — but is not allowed to duplicate Metro’s other government services in the future.

“Well, that’s kind of a hard pill to swallow because you don’t know what the future’s going to bring,” said Beth Reardon, Belle Meade city manager. “I think we would like to know that we don’t have to stay the same as we were in 1963 in this new century. There’s no other evil motive behind this, just wanting to have an opportunity in case something comes up in the future.”

People who live in the satellite cities pay taxes to Metro’s government, but also pay property taxes to their individual cities.

The legislation is up for a vote in both the House and Senate legislative committees that handle legislation concerning local government.

030713 Dean letter to Davidson County Delegation re satellite cities bill.pdf267.84 KB

16 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 3/7/13 at 5:52

Government operates with the consent of the governed. Apparently Dean has a problem with the governed staging a little rebellion. Do these cities not know that they are Metro's cash cows. Lots of taxes coming in, very little actual police service going out, they tend to avoid the Metro schools like it was a bitter shut in aunt even though they are paying for them.

If these cities were allowed to provide their own city services Metro would have to depend on taxes from all that diversity to pay for the next downtown wish list. Its would get extra bad if they kept their school funding taxes and started a school system worthy of servicing their children.

Memphis school officials opened Pandora's box when they chose to take over the county schools while Republicans so completely control the state government. The municipal school system revolution is spreading to the other Tennessee city with subpar (but diverse) schools.

By: BellevueBill on 3/7/13 at 11:58

In Los Angeles County, California communities like South Pasadena, San Marino, etc. are independent of the city and have excellent school systems(and liberal politics). This movement could have legs.

By: 4gold on 3/8/13 at 7:24

Satelite cities just want to spend all their money on their little patch of land and then go use Nashville for free. Like Williamson County residence do now. Just let Davidson tax payers pay for everything and everybody else come enjoy.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: govskeptic on 3/8/13 at 7:45

Comes as no surprise that Belle Meade would be the most in favor of and likely
pushing this reconsideration of Metro Government. I can just see little fiefdoms of
Belle Meade and Berry Hill being places you would want to drive around with
their private and money hungry police forces and Courts. Donelson would outlaw
the sale of all alcoholic beverages and who knows what Madison would legislate.

Reduce the size of Metro Council in half and gives those Council members who
are elected more say so for those they do represent and power within overall
direction, policies, and spending of this government.

No surprise that Representative Carr would carry this legislation, the Murfreesboro
area representative gets lots of donations out of the Belle Meade area. All crazy
talk with serious consequences.

By: st8of10ec on 3/8/13 at 8:29

Nothing like duplicating services over & over,& making it harder to attract industry in these days of budget shortfalls.wonder who will be getting the kickbacks,believe me somebody stands to profit from this boondoggle!

By: joe41 on 3/8/13 at 8:39

These satellite cities want to cherry pick their services. Like a school system? Gimme a break.

By: Rocket99 on 3/8/13 at 8:39

Yet again, some in our legislature are wanting to do exactly what they say they shouldn't, meddle in local governing. Can't they just keep their hands off like they say they should? So what if Forest Hills got their hand slapped. They can use the existing court system as opposed to creating their own.

Also, if all these little cities want the power, they need to come up with their own funding, not take anything away from what already goes to Metro. Personally, I don't want higher taxes to pay for something in another little city, which I don't live in, within Metro.

By: pipecarver on 3/8/13 at 8:45

Be careful what you ask for; just ask the small business people operating in Brentwood. They currently pay duplicate taxes (usually the exact same amount) for both city taxes and Williamson County taxes. Most people "assume" the business owners can afford double taxation, but I personally found them to be a joke.

As this city continues to grow, I would urge everyone to call friends and family living in larger cities, before immediately jumping on this bandwagon. I have friends living in a small community outside Chicago. Pretty eye opening to find out how much of their net take home pay goes to fund basic services we receive for quite a bit less. This is because many of their outlying areas have duplication, rather than consolidation. Toll roads are my personal favorite, where citizens drive around with a device on their cars that automatically deduct money from their bank accounts every time they pass through "their territory." Yes, we are talking about a city of 9 million, but you get the picture.

Logic dictates that anytime you duplicate services in a less-than-transparent democracy, WE the consumer end up fitting the bill. And once this train starts rolling, it will be next to impossible to stop it.

By: Kosh III on 3/8/13 at 9:57

The article does tell the bill number(never does!) and the only thing I could find wa HB1204/SB1285 which says
"SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 7-2-107(e), is amended by deleting
the subsection and substituting instead the following language:
(e) Where a proposed charter of metropolitan government is or was ratified by a
majority of those voting in a principal city and of those voting in the county outside of the
principal city, but a smaller city continues or continued, either because an appendix or a
proposed appendix has been rejected or no such appendix has been proposed, the
smaller city continues and shall retain any and all powers of a separate city that are, or
may thereafter be, authorized under the constitution, its charter and the general laws of
this state. The smaller city shall become a part of the general services district and may
not thereafter be included within the urban services district by action of the metropolitan
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring
it, and shall apply to any such transfer having its referendum results certified on or after the effective date of this act.

If I read this correctly, it would not do what the article says it would do. What think ye?

By: Left-of-Local on 3/8/13 at 11:02

Oh yeah, just what we need. Let's have the champion hick of hicks, Carr, send up a bill that empowers the old people in Goodlettsville to ignore the future, Belle Meade to invent more speed traps and maybe annex some park space for a new racist country club if they can find one, Forest Hills to invent their own laws so you'll never know what the hell is legal and illegal no matter where you are, Berry Hill to form a city where businesses can be in constant battle with Vandy, and Oak Hill to… wait… there's nothing in Oak Hill aside from really expensive houses. Yeah, whatever.

Interesting how a conservative douche like Carr wants the bigger government, instead of the people, to dictate to the smaller government what to do. Looks like yet another Republican duplicity exposed. "Big government" is always bad till it can help these clowns be more backwoods somehow.

If ANYTHING… and that's a big if… this should go to the people for a vote. And it should go on a MAJOR ELECTION YEAR, not hide behind known-shitty turnout like that Fairgrounds swindle and charter-raping those idiots concocted.

Let's ask Ms. Reardon what's NOT evil about creating an unreliable system of Mayberry bullshit laws that changes every ten miles as you make your way around town.


Show me someone under 40 who gives a shit about this. Please.

The rest of us have a city to live in. You want small town? MOVE TO LASCASSAS with Mr. Carr. I am from there. It's a nice place. Enjoy. Get out of my city.

By: Left-of-Local on 3/8/13 at 11:17


JeFffffFFFFff…. This is not the PEOPLE forming any rebellion. This is state politicians who don't even LIVE here, sticking their noses into cities they can't even comprehend. I can think of NOTHING WORSE than relegation of the only good schools to neighborhoods ("cities") where people are all white and all rich, and nobody else can afford a home. While the idiot school board basically did that by re-segregating the schools, at least I have a chance as a voter to help change that and fire a ton of those assholes like we saw last time. In this Carr-Redneck model, no chance.

4gold said it best. You want your own crap? FINE. Pay admission EVERY TIME you walk over the bridge to see the Titans, use a park, drive on ANY ROAD outside your little fiefdom, etc. Let's get Metro Police stopping people to verify their Davidson County address or write them a ticket for using our resources. This is such Teabagger CRAP.

LORD… Govskep… You're SO right. I shudder at the goofy shit some of these communities would shovel up onto our boots. UGH.

By: imdyinhere on 3/8/13 at 11:48

What sayeth TN district 20 Senator Steven Dickerson? House Speaker Beth Harwell House District 56? You know ... the state legislators who actually represent those districts.

Cat got your backbones?

By: CoyoteCrawford on 3/8/13 at 1:41

More big nosey Republican government. I'm sure the people of Davidson County can handle their own business without the interfering of state government.

By: jonw on 3/8/13 at 1:45

Left-of-Local keeps commenting about wanting people to die. Wonder how many wish the same about him/her?

By: ancienthighway on 3/10/13 at 6:09

I can't help but think this is a roundabout way of breaking up the Democratic stronghold of Metro Nashville. How many of these "new" cities would be Republican, and how many seats on the Hill would they be able to siphon off?
Hey, in case you elected folks on the Hill haven't heard already, you got super majorities in both branches of the legislature, you've got the mayor that won't veto any of your nonsensical bills, let alone the hard stuff.
I would guess the dream of the Republicans is a one party state. That would be interesting considering the company they would be in, NAZI Germany, the USSR, China, North Korea, most of the Middle East. Oh the list goes on and on.

By: Vuenbelvue on 3/11/13 at 11:01

I could see Bellevue standing on its own. It wraps around the western edge of Davidson county and does not really have any ties to the Mayor's and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce's plans. MCC and Broadway tourist area, Rent free-property and property tax free NCC, BRT down West End and same dead-ending down Charlotte Pike at $35 million a mile. Mid town 3 story building five year plan which sounds remarkably like Mayor Purcell's Nashville Now folks digging up the Downtown interstate plan. Yea, the old Bellevue Mall could be converted into a City Center zone for it's own government. I don't think the 2 year old new $10 million plus Bellevue library has been started yet.