Nashville’s Metro Council has key votes Tuesday related to incentive packages the city is considering for Amazon and AllianceBernstein, as well as early consideration of potential new rules governing future grants.
The two high-profile companies promise to bring thousands of jobs to downtown. But some leaders are debating the value of providing millions of dollars to private industry.
There’s no proposal to outright reject Amazon, as was the outcome in New York City. But the council is considering going on the record with a resolution: that the city shouldn’t give incentives to Amazon, AllianceBernstein or any company, until Metro can pay for raises for its employees.
The mayor and council cancelled expected raises last year. Since then, the unions for Metro employees, teachers, police and firefighters have dogged officials about their spending, including on incentives.
The council resolution would be nonbinding. So whatever the outcome Tuesday, members could come back and approve the $15 million Amazon package.
But the council faces an even more pressing decision.
At the same Tuesday meeting, members will be asked to sign off on more than $3 million for investment firm AllianceBernstein.
The overlapping proposals could make for an intense debate and an uncertain outcome.
In fact, two other rule change for future incentive packages are being floated. It’s largely by coincidence — but also reflective of the political mood surrounding incentives — that so many similar measures appear on the same agenda.
“I don’t think we’ve thoroughly analyzed how we do incentives,” said Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher, chairwoman of the budget and finance committee. “We are at a great place where we can evaluate how we do business as a city as a whole.”
Vercher is backing a bill that would stop Nashville from giving local money to companies that are already getting perks from the state government. That idea is still early in the council process.
Another bill that is slightly further along would require any future economic incentive deals to include a matching contribution into the city’s affordable housing program.
“When these deals come before the body, they provide such benefit to the city," Vercher said. "But they still give council members heartburn."