NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- Two radically different approaches to the Metro Nashville operating budget will be considered by the city council tonight.
One is being championed by Budget Committee Chair Tanaka Vercher and would essentially leave spending at current levels for another year.
The second approach is being championed by Councilman Bob Mendes and would ask Nashville residents to pay higher taxes to cover the city’s growing needs.
Vercher’s budget proposes relatively minor changes to Mayor David Briley’s budget. The council woman’s plan would allocate an additional $2 million to Metro Schools.
Vercher says after lengthy negotiations among council members that’s all she could find consensus for.
But two million new dollars is well below the roughly $47 million in additional funds the Nashville School Board is asking for. Vercher’s budget does not include promised pay raises for Metro employees.
The councilwoman says higher taxes just are not an option.
“Many people cannot afford the city as it is. The proposal of any type of tax…now is not the right time.”
But Councilman Bob Mendes says failing to raise taxes now is just kicking the budget problem down the road.
“We either correct the problem where we’ve gotten out of step with historical practices, or we balance the budget on the backs of our employees and school kids by underfunding both of them.”
Councilwoman Vercher says with a little study the city can avoid new taxes by closing property assessment loopholes and streamlining expenditures.
Councilman Mendes says even after his proposed increase Nashville property taxes would still be some of the lowest in the state.
The Metro Council is expected to take the budget issue at tonight’s meeting.