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Nashville mayor proposes 32 percent property tax hike in response to pandemic

Nashville mayor proposes 32 percent property tax hike in response to pandemic
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Nashville Mayor John Cooper is pushing a 31.7-percent increase in property taxes — the first tax hike since 2012 — as the city scrambles to balance its budget, according to The Tennessean.

The plan increases property taxes by $1 for fiscal 2021, which would move the rate from $3.155 to $4.155. 

"This is a crisis budget," Cooper said at a city council meeting Tuesday, the newspaper reported. The mayor announced a $2.44 billion budget proposal, which is about $115 million more than the current fiscal year. 

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Nashville is one of many cities in the U.S. that are struggling to make up tax revenue lost amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to widespread closures and record-high numbers of unemployment nation-wide. The pandemic comes as the state seeks to recover from a devastating tornado season. 

City leaders project the pandemic will lead to a revenue loss of $470 million over a 16-month period. Nashville received funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to tornado damage, but city leaders have said it's not enough to cover the total losses. 

The city will need “slow down, cut back, trim, slice and save” in order to maintain stability, the mayor said. 

“Thousands of residents have lost their jobs during the pandemic, and that makes the necessary decision to raise taxes all the more difficult,” Cooper said. “And as I mentioned during the State of Metro address, the city has thinned its cash reserves to a point where we find ourselves without a rainy-day fund during a stormy season.”

Cooper said the tax hike is an effort to avoid laying off city employees. The city council has a history of voting down tax increases. 

“If any council members don’t want to approve this let us know and we will have to begin mass layoffs,” Cooper said.