Nashville’s mayoral finalists have both opposed a property tax increase the past two years. But now, late in the campaign, Mayor David Briley has started to share a scenario in which he might be willing to make that move.
The incumbent mayor has chosen his words carefully, and he’s never ruled out a future tax increase. But several times this week, Briley has been more specific, saying that the needs of Metro Schools might require more money. At a forum on Tuesday, he said he’d look for other funding methods, and push for more state funding first.
“Then, and only then, you go to the people who live in the city and say, ‘We need to consider raising the property tax to do more funding for public education,’” Briley said.
Briley has also gone on the attack against Councilman John Cooper for promising numerous additional neighborhood investments without citing a reliable funding source.
“The things that Councilman Cooper are promising and proposing can’t be done without raising revenue. … We’ve left our teachers behind for more than a decade. And getting them caught up can’t be done by trimming around the edge,” Briley said.
Cooper hasn’t budged. Central to his campaign is a view that Metro could get more tax money from downtown tourism, despite legal and contractual questions about that approach.
“Make this fabulous thing that has happened in Nashville, this kind of downtown district and tourism zone, begin to contribute back,” Cooper said Tuesday.
He also stiffened his stance against higher taxes.
“I think David has had two chances to raise taxes. It sounds like he’s feeling like perhaps we should have raised taxes,” Cooper said. “I don’t because it’s unfair to everybody that has higher costs due to growth.”
One irony on taxation this campaign season: The local unions for teachers, firefighters and police each spent two years trying to convince officials to raise taxes. But those groups have all endorsed Cooper.