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Mayor John Cooper and Metro Council Members Release Statements After Council Approves FY21 Operating Budget

Chris Song

Mayor John Cooper and members of the Metro Council today issued the following statements following the Council’s final vote to approve the FY21 operating budget ordinance.

Mayor John Cooper:

“This budget season was unlike any other in Metro history. The Council weighed four different budget proposals, each of which called for a significant tax increase. Ultimately, the Council passed a crisis budget that stabilizes Metro’s finances and maintains essential city services.

“A large tax increase is never easy, and it was made more painful by the sharp economic downturn brought on by COVID-19. It’s something that I would not have considered were we not facing the greatest financial challenge in Nashville’s history. It is a difficult but necessary choice for our city and our residents. I am grateful for the work of the entire Council.”

“Undoubtedly, we would all prefer to make incremental investments in our common priorities -- education, transportation, employee compensation, and affordable housing. The opportunity to make these investments will come once we get beyond this crisis budget and as a result of this budget.

“In addition to getting Metro’s financial house in order, this budget includes several important priorities I want to highlight this morning:

  • $2.1 million for a full deployment of body-worn cameras for the Metro Nashville Public Department, funded by the police department’s Public Health and Safety contingency;
  • $4.9 million for a fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage for Metro Nashville Public School staff to bring our educators’ pay in line with Metro policy; and
  • $229,000 to hire a Chief Diversity Officer and a Workforce Diversity Manager.

“A combination of deep cuts, a painful but necessary property tax increase, and replenished fund balance will safely see our community through to the other side of the coronavirus and the most serious budget crisis in Nashville’s history.”

Vice Mayor Jim Shulman:

“With a pandemic still around us and a City trying to recover economically, the Mayor and the Council found a way together to balance the City’s budget while keeping our core services safe.  It wasn’t easy but it was the responsible thing to do.”

At-Large Council Member Bob Mendes:

“I appreciate the community, the Council, and the administration all working so hard on the budget in these difficult times. A tax increase isn’t what anyone wants, but Nashville is strong and we will come through this mess together.

“I appreciate the Mayor working so hard on finding other new revenue over the last six months. That helped the rate from having to be higher.

“We know it will be a long road for our city, state and country to work back from the current crisis. This budget will help Nashville start of the path toward a full recovery.”

District 2 Council Member Kyonzté Toombs:

“We passed a budget that prioritizes our teachers, our Metro employees, our young people, and equity. Raising property taxes at this time was a very tough decision. However, this budget allows us to continue to provide vital services and support to our residents. We will get through this together.”