FILE - Nashville Mayor John Cooper 1-27-20

Nashville Mayor John Cooper

(The Center Square) – Nashville Mayor John Cooper has denounced a ballot measure to repeal his 34 percent property tax increase as a “poison pill.”

Prompted by Nashville’s languishing financial situation, Nashville attorney Jim Roberts drafted the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act to repeal the 34 percent tax hike and impose requirements for financial responsibility on Nashville’s Metropolitan Council.

“It is frankly a poison pill for our city, and everyone who serves the city, every teacher, every police officer, every citizen, would need to be deeply concerned that this is a poison pill,” Cooper said. “I do worry that the result of this is just forcing a stealth election on Nashville.”

The 34 percent property tax increase was approved by the Metro Council in June, and went into effect July 1. Based on assessed property value, the tax hike will cost the average Nashville homeowner between $600 and $900 this year.

The Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act proposal repeals the tax hike and limits 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.

“There’s nothing stealth about giving Nashvillians the ability to decide whether they want to increase their own taxes,” said Tori Venable, Tennessee state director of Americans for Prosperity, which collaborated on the grassroots effort to collect signatures.

“The only ‘poison pill’ is the harmful tax increase Nashville families and businesses are being forced to swallow while politicians and politically connected companies cash in on the backs of taxpayers,” Venable said.

Signatures of more than 20,000 petitioners for the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act were delivered to the Metro Clerk’s office this week. If verified by the Election Commission, the measure would be on a special election ballot Dec. 5.

Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.