The Center Square [By Vivian Jones]
A grassroots group advocating to repeal Nashville’s 34 percent property tax increase delivered 20,035 signatures to the Metropolitan Clerk’s office Wednesday afternoon.
The Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act petition is a collaboration of a grassroots group founded by Nashville Attorney Jim Roberts called 4 Good Government, and the Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity. Nearly 50 volunteers contacted more than 38,000 Tennesseans via phone calls, texts and door-to-door canvassing to gather the petition signatures.
“As people have lost their homes or are going to lose their homes, and have had their businesses forcibly shut down, there’s no way that we can afford this at this time,” said Tori Venable, Tennessee Director of Americans for Prosperity. “What better time to try and actually fix these problems that have plagued our city for decades?”
The Election Commission will now review the petition signatures, checking for duplicate petitioners, and verifying that each petitioner is a registered voter. When verified, the measure will be on a special citywide referendum ballot on Dec. 5.
“We have the council’s attention,” Roberts said to a group of about 15 volunteers gathered on Nashville’s Public Square to deliver the petition.
The city council approved the 34 percent property tax increase June 17 and it went into effect July 1.
“Let’s slow the implosion of this city a little bit,” Roberts said. “With $3.6 billion in debt, one in every $7 goes to debt service – that’s one in every seven dollars that’s not used or not used for sidewalks, it’s not used for police and fire, all those things you want government to do.”
The proposed Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act would repeal the city’s 34 percent property tax hike, and limit future property tax increases to 2 percent per year, unless approved by a public referendum. It also restricts the City Council’s ability to give away public land, requires a public referendum on building projects not enumerated in the Metro Charter, reverts facilities of professional sports teams to the people if teams leave Nashville, and requires Metro records be open to the public.
“Over the last month and a half, and we’ve had every zip code, every precinct – we’re all over,” Roberts said. “We’re anywhere from Antioch to Whites Creek, I mean, this is not a West Nashville issue or North Nashville or an East Nashville issue. We’re bipartisan. We are all over this town because there is a universal reaction – a knee-jerk reaction – what a bad idea this is.”
In order to go on a ballot for a citywide referendum, petitioners needed to gather between 9,900 and 11,500 signatures, or 10 percent of participating voters in the city’s general election on Aug. 6. Venable said the group decided to collect roughly double the required amount.
“This is how grassroots wins,” Venable said.