Wednesday, June 19, 2019

NANCY VANREECE COMMENT ON THE BUDGET VOTE

We need to be equitable in the distribution of any new property tax dollars and I did not see that equity in the Vercher/Mendes Budget.

Not in the mix for more than the 3% already in the Mayor’s budget, was the other 10,000 metro employees that aren’t teachers. To raise one boat wouldn’t be equitable. So much misinformation was out there and even the sponsors would admit that it only is a small part of that we should be doing.

Under the proposed amendment, the Vercher/Mendes plan, a teacher making $40,000 a year would have ended up taking home about $13 more per paycheck than what the Briley plan gave them, That isn’t even close to being enough. There was no discussion about how some teachers may lose their jobs in the coming year. Also not discussed, was the pending case concerning sexual harassment claims that suggest MNPS failed to act to protect students that I believe will result in substantial legal fees and settlements that the School Board will have to navigate. There was no discussion about how some schools are on deck to be closed because of lack of enrollment and we spoke nothing at all about how to hold accountable the State Legislature that gutted the school funding this year, not the Mayor.


It increased job positions for police, but there are over 100 positions currently open that are not being filled. Based on my feedback, this is about morale more than pay. However, make no mistake, I believe they should be paid more.


And, also not discussed, it would have gutted out the small business incentive work that needs to happen to stop the bleeding on small business gentrification that is taking place.

A moral budget? The moral thing to do is to hold the next council, of which I certainly hope to be a part of, accountable for completing the pay plan study and working with the Mayor’s office for not just 3 months but 12 months on having a solution discussed by the public. The School Board should be working with the State on school funding solutions and continue getting their house in order to build the county-wide confidence that Interim Director Battle deserves.

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All of us, no matter where we work, should encourage more public-private engagements for all of our nonprofits that are doing such vital, important and life-changing work. Having spent over ten years in non-profit management, I can tell you that relying on government funding for stability is not wise. Smart organizations know this. If you are reading this and had hoped that more would have been done for transit, buy $364 ( the average your taxes would have been raised) worth of free bus passes this year and give them to a nonprofit for distribution. Wish that a particular nonprofit had received funding? Make a direct donation of $364. Wish we had more books? Donate to the National Library Foundation. Call book publishers and ask them to donate books. There are hundreds of options to put your $364 to work this year: https://www.cfmt.org/

My work as a Councilmember is not to make everyone happy, but to strike a balance that is satisfactory. When I spoke to the CLC I told them, what still believe to be true: District 8 is ready to tolerate a tax rate increase if they know where the money is going and it is equitably distributed.

Everyone is obsessing about the one-time revenue from the Parking Modernization and I’m over here cheering for upgraded infrastructure and evolved use and understanding of our right-of-way and how it is used/wasted. The mayor's parking proposal will allow people to easily find and pay for affordable street parking spaces and is expected to generate $337 million in revenue for the city (over 30 years) from meter rates and compliance. No asset is being sold - a partner (ParkNashville) was selected through a bid process to take on the costs to modernize the parking system and to manage the day-to-day operation and maintenance. To me, this sounds like smart government.

Mayor Briley has said he said he wants to have a clear understanding of all of the city's needs and what revenue is available, before making a suggestion to raise property taxes.  The metro pay plan is under review. This is a step in the right direction for providing equity and raising all boats.

I will challenge this administration, and/or the next, to continue to have monthly budget conversations about new revenue streams. I will hold us all accountable to be kind and fair to all of our neighbors.

Hon. Nancy VanReece, District 8