Commentary: Mayor Cooper’s Tax Increase Would Torpedo an Already Reeling Nashville

Mayor John Cooper’s proposed 32 percent property tax increase is a terrible idea and would be detrimental to the city of Nashville, potentially creating a chilling effect across Middle Tennessee. An increase of such magnitude would bring additional pain and suffering to untold thousands of Nashvillians already harmed by the government-mandated COVID-19 lockdown and the tornado that preceded it.

Decisions about tax increases should be delayed until next spring. After the Mayor has made significant cuts and structural changes in Metro government. It also must come after Mayor Cooper has hosted townhall meetings in every Nashville neighborhood. At such times he can educate voters about what he will have done to cut spending and exactly how he will operate the city in a fiscally conservative manner.

Mayor Cooper needs to lead by example. Given that he was able to contribute $2 million of his own money to win election, he should emulate President Donald Trump and donate his pay to government service. If he chooses to draw a salary, he should be the first high-ranking executive to take a significant pay cut and set a belt-tightening example. This should be followed by pay cuts in Metro government, beginning with top officials in tourism, where a couple of salaries exceed $700,000.

The Mayor has not done enough to cut waste or to find additional resources through a restructuring of government. Major contractors such as Bridgestone Firestone are reportedly overcharging, and there is corruption in some departments that must be addressed. Across-the-board pay cuts of 25 percent or more (32 percent, perhaps?) should be mandated for Metro employees earning more than $100,000. Just for starters.

During his election campaign, the mayor-to-be pledged to restore faith and trust in government. So far, he is flunking. If this were college, he could expect a pink warning slip soon. He has done nothing to improve public safety in the city even though he received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. Chief Anderson, a holdover from previous administrations, remains in place despite complaints and ongoing problems within the police department. Firefighters, dispatchers, and other first responders had fallen to the bottom of the list of priorities before the crises. Plus, the proposed new budget offers first responders nothing in the way of a pay raise nor does it fund body cameras for police officers.

Questions must be addressed and answered: Why has Metro paid its employees full salaries during the lockdown when other non-essential workers had to apply for unemployment? Shouldn’t Metro employees have been laid off or furloughed if they were not performing essential services?

I am not finished.

How did the Mayor arrive at such an inflated number – a 32 percent increase – which will destroy budgets for taxpayers on fixed incomes and kill many small businesses? He is a loose cannon.

Again, why does the proposed new budget not include a pay raise for first responders? The federal money that Mayor Cooper said will provide some workers with a $3-an-hour increase is only temporary. Besides, why should the federal government be supporting a basic service that citizens pay taxes to receive?.

We should not be surprised by Mayor Cooper’s ill-advised tax increase or the heavy handedness of a shutdown that considers abortion clinics and liquor stores essential services, while shutting down many businesses that provide services people need.

All across the nation, Democrats are operating from the same playbook. High crime, high taxes, poorly performing schools, and government corruption are common in cities under Democrat control. We should resist ANY tax increase this year. If we fail in our efforts, those of us who want good government might just have to vote with our feet and move to a location governed by fiscally conservative elected officials.

This commentary was published in The Tennessee Star