Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mayor Proposes Third Budget Without Property Tax Increase

Thursday, April 29, 2010 Mayor Proposes Third Budget Without Property Tax Increase Debt Restructure Allows Mayor to Fully Fund Schools, Preserve Core Public Services For the third straight year, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean today announced that he will submit an operating budget to the Metro Council without a property tax increase and with fully funding the budget for Metro Schools. Mayor Dean made the announcement during the annual State of Metro Address, which he delivered this morning at the Court of Flags at Riverfront Park downtown. “Our city is faring better than most,” Dean said. “But still, many families in Nashville are sitting down at their kitchen tables, examining their budgets, and facing real financial challenges with how they’re going to get by … As a government, we do not need to add to their burden. In addition, raising taxes in a down economy would potentially stifle our already-slow recovery and hamper our growth. Whatever financial gain our government would get would be more than offset by the negative financial impact it would have on our community as a whole.” In addition to not raising property taxes, Mayor Dean said he made it a priority to preserve essential public services, especially in the areas of education and public safety. With revenue projections flat for fiscal year 2010-2011, the mayor’s budget proposes restructuring a portion of the city’s debt to lower payments on capital expenditures for the next two years, which will help the city absorb the rising cost of employee benefits and other contractual obligations. “We have to prepare a balanced budget – operating on a deficit is not an option for local government, nor would we want it to be. So to make ends meet, we are faced with three choices – raise taxes, drastically cut services, or instead, find a practical approach to getting through the remainder of the recession. And that’s what we’ve done,” Dean said. “We can do this, and still protect our city’s finances in the long run, because we will take advantage of the historically-low interest rates that have come about as a result of the current economy,” he said. If approved by Council, the mayor's budget calls for Metro departments to receive an average 2 percent cut, allowing Public Works, Metro Parks and the Nashville Public Library to maintain current service levels. Police and Fire will retain all sworn / frontline positions. Metro Schools will receive a $25 million increase over the general fund dollars allocated last year. The mayor’s budget also allows for a number of service enhancements, including: Additional general fund dollars to continue and expand afterschool programming for middle school students and a new program that allows high school students to access materials from the Public Library at school
Funds to support the implementation of the Poverty Reduction Initiative, a comprehensive plan developed through a community-wide process with the goal of reducing poverty in Nashville by 50 percent over the next 10 years
Following a recent study commissioned by Dollar General and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce that found roughly 12 percent of adults in Davidson County, or 52,000 people, lack basic reading a comprehension skills, the mayor committed to hiring a full-time staff member in the Mayor’s Office to work in the area of adult literacy with Dollar General providing half the funds for salary and benefits.
Mayor Dean called Nashville “a city on the rise” and said despite the economic conditions over the last two years, the city has continued to improve. “We’re making progress in our schools. We have a fully-staffed police department. Crime is down. And we are creating new jobs. We’re making Nashville an even better place to live. This community deserves the credit. And it’s my job to continue working on those things that ensure our city and our citizens thrive,” he said. In conjunction with the operating budget, Mayor Dean said he will file his second capital spending plan. Projects funded by the plan include the construction of the 28th Avenue Connector, the construction of two additional police precincts in the Madison and South Nashville areas, the planning and design of a new Public Health headquarters facility to replace Lentz, and planning and land acquisition for library in Bellevue, among others. The mayor also allocated $5 million in the capital budget for the creation of an Open Space Revolving Fund to support the creation and conservation of open space and green space through public / private partnerships. “With good fiscal management and a determination to see our city thrive, we can continue to invest in our city’s infrastructure, and in the areas that matter most; and we will be in an even greater city when the economy begins to recover,” Dean said. Read the full State of Metro Address online:

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