Thursday, July 27, 2023

Allice Rollie: We need to get our finances in order before we start making any new spending promises.

by Rod Williams, June 27, 2023- As the above video states Nashville has more debt than the state of Tennessee. Nashville ranks 68th out of the 75 largest cities in the U.S. for total debt per taxpayer. The annual interest on our debt is $413 million and is the second largest item in the city's budget. Nashville has the 10th highest debt of any city in America. In the 2024 operating budget, 12.74% of revenue was dedicated to paying debt service. Something needs to change. Should we have sustained or higher inflation, we would have to refinance debt at higher rates and our debt would take even more of our city budget. We need to get our financial house in order. 

In 2020 Nashville raised property taxes 34%. While we possibly could have raised taxes by a lesser amount if we had engaged in belt-tightening, a tax increase was necessary that year. Our fund balances had reached a dangerously low level and without a tax increase we would have had to cut essential services. Tennessee state comptroller Justin Wilson warned that without drastic action, the state might take over management of Nashville’s affairs. In response, the Metro council raised property taxes 34 percent. Years of gross fiscal mismanagement resulted in this situation. It did not happen overnight. 

Unfortunately, Nashville continues down the same path that led to the last massive tax increase. We continue to add increased obligations. Looming on the horizon is $4.6 billion in unfunded costs to cover retiree health benefits. 

In forums and in media interview, most candidates for mayor say that at some point another tax increase will be necessary. It should not be. We are growing and adding new properties to the tax roll and property values are increasing. As the tax base increases, the tax revenue to the city increases.  We should not have to have a constantly increasing tax burden.  

Alice Rollie is the only candidate for mayor that pledges not to increase taxes. She talks about fiscal responsibility. I believe she will manage our finances responsibly, adequately fund our unfunded obligations, maintain responsible fund balances, and live within our means. She will get out financial house in order. 

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