Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Metro balances the books

by MEGAN PODSIEDLIK, Reposted from The Pamphleteer, June 19, 2024- Despite a dense docket, it was smooth sailing through the final reading of Metro Council’s substitute budget during last night’s meeting. Mayor O’Connell enveloped Budget and Finance Committee Chair Delishia Porterfield in a hug following the body’s unanimous approval of the ordinance. “I would like to thank the mayor for giving us a really great foundation to start off with,” said Porterfield, in front of a backdrop of protest signs reading IT’S GENOCIDE. “My focus for this year's budget was to utilize an equity lens to [prioritize] the residents of Nashville, particularly our youth and our city employees who are vital to making our city thrive.”

Though there was a little pushback after Porterfield originally unveiled the council’s budget, it seems she avoided any courthouse scruples by making a few notable changes at the eleventh hour. For one, Councilmember Sandra Sepulveda got the $300,000 she needed to fund her “Build It Right” legislation’s construction safety oversight board. 

Speaking of Build It Right: the bill got significant support during last night’s meeting, and Sepulveda was able to pass a substitute version of her bill on second reading. After being deferred to address a few community and administrative concerns, the District 30 council member didn’t just manage to appease her colleagues by adding a contractor position to the board, but she also cut a few of the DEI requirements: specifically, the requirement to adhere to Metro’s Equal Business Opportunity Program.

While “Build It Right” got a boost, Metro Arts got a buzzcut: Porterfield ended up shaving a bit off the top of the $400,000 set aside for Metro Arts to conduct an equity study. Now, there will only be “up to $250,000” available in this year’s budget for the study.

At the end of the day, Porterfield was able to find the extra money needed for her additional spending without raising taxes or firing anyone; instead, she turned to administrative savings and Metro reserve funds.  “...I do have to be very clear that because of a mid-year supplemental, we were able to reduce those admin accounts,” she told her colleagues. “However, in our next budget, we do have to refill those accounts [and] we will not be able to tap them so low...”

Ginny Welsch
Still trying to defund
the police.
For the most part, the council seemed to be on the same page— aside from the budget, the COLA pay plan adjustments and the tax levy passed without a fuss. Even the creation of twenty-three new Metro jobs got the green light from council members by voice vote. However, there was one council member who was thoroughly iced out of the discussion: District 16’s Ginny Welsch.

Welsch proposed six of the seven amendments filed to make more changes to the budget on third reading: all defunding the police and allocating their budget dollars elsewhere. Five of those proposals never made it through committee because the “no pass for fascism” council member couldn’t find anyone to second her amendments. As Vice Mayor Angie Henderson opened up the machines to take the final vote on the budget proposal, Welsch was flustered and confused having not presented the one amendment that made it through committee. Unfortunately, she missed her window during the proceedings and resigned to the fate of her failed amendments. 

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