NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – The Nashville Metro Council voted overwhelmingly 31 to 3 to pass the 2023 budget that will fund the metro government in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1.
Officials said the budget passed by Council included funding for all of the key initiatives Mayor Cooper previously outlined in his Neighborhoods and Families Agenda in April. This includes salary increases for bus drivers, cafeteria workers and paraprofessionals; many more resources to strengthen the city’s central services; 157 new first responders in the metro departments; and more funding to expand affordable housing.
“They say a budget shows a city’s values better than any words. I am grateful to the Metro Council for their hard work and diligence in passing a budget that reflects Nashville’s values and priorities and will help our city grow in a way that works for everyone.” said Mayor John Cooper.
Here are some of the key provisions passed in this year’s budget that will have a significant impact on the lives of Nashvillians:
- Record investment in Metro Nashville public schools for the second year in a row, up 9% for 2023 after a 9% increase last year as well, in the fiscal year 2022 budget. These new investments come one year after having made Nashville teachers the highest paid in the state is how Metro creates the best possible conditions to recruit and retain the best public school teachers in the nation.
- Paid family leave for all first-time MNPS employees is a generational demand that Metro can finally meet.
- Significant increase in Department of Transportation resources and manpower so we can better serve our neighborhoods – focusing on maintenance, safety and engineering – and analyzing traffic patterns to reduce traffic and congestion across Nashville.
- More staff in the Homelessness Impact Division, which we’ve increased by 92% in our last two budgets.
- More than $20 million per year to create affordable housing and ARP funds. Our rate of investment in affordable housing has increased fivefold since Mayor Cooper took office.
- Bus drivers will receive a minimum annual salary increase of approx. $11,000 to almost $14,000.
- MNPS paraprofessionals will receive a minimum annual salary increase of nearly $4,400 up to nearly $8,700, and cafeteria workers will receive a minimum annual salary increase of over $3,700.
- A living wage of $18 an hour for all Metro employees, and the Board has extended the same standard to MNPS employees – meaning all full-time Metro and MNPS employees will receive for the first time a minimum of $18/hour next year.
- Adding more police officers to prioritize community safety in neighborhoods, including opening the 9th Precinct in Southeast Nashville once it is fully staffed and built.
- Add more first responders including firefighters, EMS units, and 911 call dispatchers to reduce response times and help achieve the national standard for truck firefighters.
- Add more parks staff to properly maintain the 178 parks and 15,000 acres of green space, including fully staffing community centers and expanding access to greenways.
- Increased investment in maintenance along our roads, bike paths and lanes – to sweep streets, clear brush and keep litter out of storm drains and groundwater – including 12 new stations to remove litter and litter. As a result, in the past month alone, cases of littering reported by residents have halved.
- A 20% increase in garbage service to increase the reliability of garbage pickup and ensure Metro has the capacity and resources to quickly make up for any shortfall in garbage pickup should it arise.
- Added Fifth Shift to Repair Potholes – in Driveways, Crosswalks, and Bike Paths to reduce the time from when they are reported to when they are repaired to less than 72 hours.
- Making the metropolitan government more accessible to immigrants by hiring Spanish and Kurdish speakers in HubNashville – part of a broader language access initiative to provide better services to our 9-1-1 call center, state trial courts, the Office of Family Safety and the Woodbine Health Clinic.
- Invest in being a city that cares about its history and appearance by hiring a city architect to incorporate community input and quality design into important projects and hiring a city archaeologist to provide assessments internal historic sites, including those associated with Native Americans, the Civil War and early African-American neighborhoods.
- Additional Resources to Improve Service and Hours of Nashville Public Libraries and the NAZA Summer Program
- Hire new staff in the areas of codes, planning, water, fire and NDOT to improve core local government functions. This will help us alleviate the growing pressure that may be placed on the city and its residents and impact customer service.
“I am grateful for the work of the Mayor and Metro Board to reduce the budget shortfall caused by the state’s continued underfunding of Nashville students and the focus on ensuring MNPS support staff have a living wage that will allow us to better retain and recruit employees who ensure that we can provide essential services to an excellent public education,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools.
One topic that many were eager to hear about was the $9 million proposal for some MNPS support staff and subway workers.
“Of course I support any improvements for support staff,” Xaviera Washington of MNPS support staff said before the vote.
They said Xaviera was talking about the additional $4 million in the council’s proposed budget to bring MNPS support staff to a living wage, about $18 an hour.
“Yes, I think it’s really important that we have that money in the budget, and yes, there should be more. I also wish the mayor’s office had called on the SEIU, the union that represents most of these workers, early in the process to talk about what was needed and what the stakeholders really needed and wanted said Ginny Welsch. – Metropolitan Councilor for District 16
But Washington said the proposed $4 million was not enough.
“We asked for $9 million and only got $4 million,” Washington said. “People who are significantly underpaid, that would be good for them, but for support workers like me, we get caught in the middle because we don’t take advantage of it,” she added.
News 4 asked council member Welsch how they came up with the $4 million.
“The calculation after that meeting in our working sessions came back to the fact that $4 million would be able to avoid the squeeze and still get the result we wanted, but maybe not to the extent that “We wanted to. But it gets people a living wage, which is important above all else,” council member Welsch said.
MNPS says the increases will begin July 1 and be on their paychecks six weeks after. All employees will receive at least a 4% raise. However, each increase depends on the position and years of service of the employees.
Another important group for the Council is that of Metro employees.
Council’s draft budget increases the cost of living adjustment for metro employees to 4.5%
“The Mayor and Metro are putting the kind of significant resources behind creating affordable housing that can make a meaningful difference for residents who are being evicted from their neighborhoods,” said Evan Holladay, founder and CEO of Holladay Ventures. “Much work remains to be done, but this budget is a positive development toward creating a more affordable and livable Nashville.”
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