Metro’s Budget Sends Mixed Message: Some Pay Raises, But Cuts Elsewhere | Nashville Public Radio

Metro’s Budget Sends Mixed Message: Some Pay Raises, But Cuts Elsewhere

May 3, 2019

Nashville’s mayor has proposed an increase to city spending in his new budget out this week, with most of it intended for salary increases for school teachers and Metro employees.

But otherwise, it’s another cautious year, especially as the city sees much larger debt payments coming due. And to make it all work, many parts of the city government are being asked to make trims.

If adopted by the Metro Council, the overall city budget would be $2.33 billion, which is a 4.55% increase over the current fiscal year.

Mayor David Briley is calling for $101.5 million in new spending. The largest shares would go toward Metro Schools ($28.2 million), salaries ($23.3 million) and debt service ($44.1 million). Other spending highlighted in a recent budget presentation (PDF) include:

  • $3 million for police body cams;
  • $2.6 million for newly opening facilities, such as the Bellevue Community Center and Metro Police headquarters and accompanying Family Safety Center;
  • $1 million for the Nashville GRAD scholarship program; and
  • $442,300 for the Equal Business Opportunity Program

Yet to pull off these line items, the budget again depends on most city departments’ searching for savings. Last year, they collectively trimmed roughly $11 million — and they’re being told to cut at least as much again.

Even the school district, which is on track for a funding increase, is being asked at the same time to find $6.2 million in savings.

All of those moves aren’t enough. Metro is also counting on more than $40 million from the sale of two assets: control of parking meters and of the downtown District Energy System, which uses an underground pipe system to heat and cool about 40 buildings.

On the other side of the ledger, incoming revenues appear healthier compared to last year. In a letter to Metro Council, the city finance director said sales tax collections could surpass projections and that property taxes — which came in surprisingly low last year — are now on target.