The Nashville Tea Party, in a move that was widely expected, is beginning to rally its troops in opposition of Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed tax hike, a plan that would mark Davidson County’s first tax increase in seven years.
The local tea party group, founded over the winter by anti-tax advocate Ben Cunningham, a Sumner County resident, has organized a May 10 meeting to discuss organizational and strategy tactics to defeat Dean’s proposed 53-cent increase to the city’s $4.13 property tax rate.
“We’re trying to get people out in the community together to discuss the best way to oppose it,” Cunningham said. “We have some hand-outs and we’re going to talk about organizing some ‘literature drops’ where we gather at a busy intersections and try to get people to call their council person.”
Cunningham claimed taxpayers have been “shut out” of the property tax debate.
The Tea Party-backed meeting to discuss Dean’s tax plan is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at the Real Estate Investors of Nashville offices on Music Valley Drive.
According to Cunningham, the Nashville Tea Party has a mailing list of more than 3,000 Davidson County residents. If enough funds are raised, the organization may opt to send mail-pieces to residences.
Whether the Nashville Tea Party shifts the public discourse on Dean’s tax proposal before the Metro Council weighs in on it in June remains to be seen. Efforts could result in a lot of noise but little sway on the 40-member council, which tends to support the mayor’s policy agenda.
For now, the strategy is pretty simple: contact Metro Council members. “That’s got to be the focus,” Cunningham said.
In the six days that have passed since Dean unveiled his tax increase proposal, folks weighing in on the mayor’s tax plan have flooded the email inboxes of council members.
On the other side of the issue, Dean himself used his mayoral email account last week to urge Davidson County citizens to contact their council representatives to support his proposal, which he contends is necessary to avoid draconian citywide cuts and make long-neglected investments. The subject of Dean’s email read, “I need your help.”
“How can you help?” Dean wrote. “Talk to your neighbors and your representatives on the Metro Council and let them know that you support the plan to move Nashville forward. And help me explain why it’s necessary.”
Stuck in the middle of the tax hike politics are 40 council members. Emily Evans, one of the council members who will make the ultimate decision on raising taxes, tweeted about the flurry of email activity last week.
“A gazillion more emails from people who don’t want us to raise property taxes AND are mad that the Mayor told them to write Council,” Evans wrote on her twitter account.