In addition to choosing the mayor and numerous council members this week, Nashville voters will also decide on two Metro Charter amendments.
One would require the mayor to provide more city budget details each year, including about city debt. That ballot amendment also requires the mayor to provide quantitative performance measurements of city departments.
The other charter amendment seeks to bring Nashville into compliance with state law regarding vacancies on the Metro School Board. Whenever there is a vacancy, such as when a member resigns, the position would be filled by the Metro Council.
Both amendments are fairly technical and have received the support of both the Metro Council and the city's administration. But voters have to decide whether they want to support the changes.
See the summary text of the ballot measures at the end of this story.
What's Not On The Ballot
Other amendments were debated this year but ultimately discarded,including the idea of using a voting method known as “instant runoff” or “ranked choice” voting in Nashville elections. The method would allow voters to rank more than one candidate so that a city no longer needs runoffs.
But for the second time in a row, the Metro Council was just shy of the votes needed to put the method onto the ballot. Supporters said the idea was gaining momentum and blamed technical glitches in the council chambers, which forced a decision on the charter amendment to be postponed.
When it finally came up for a vote in May, six council members were absent and the measure failed by four votes.
Amendment No. 1 Summary
This amendment would require that, in conjunction with submission of the annual operating budget, the mayor must also submit performance and efficiency measurements for departments, boards, commissions and agencies that receive appropriations from the metropolitan government. The director of finance would have discretion to determine appropriate measurements and to omit departments, boards, commissions and agencies whose functions are not conducive to quantifiable measurements. This amendment would further require that the mayor submit the total principal amount of debt of the metropolitan government then outstanding; a comparison of that amount to the previous calendar year’s amount; a calculation of debt per capita; a summary of the total amount of authorized but unissued general obligation bonds; and a summary of all authorized debt for which short term debt has and has not yet been issued.
Amendment No. 2 Summary
The Metropolitan Charter currently provides that a vacancy upon the metropolitan board of education is to be filled by the remaining members of the board. However, such vacancies are filled by the local legislative body pursuant to state law. This amendment would revise the Charter to render it consistent with state law.
A version of this story originally published on May 8, 2019.