In his seventh State of Metro address, Mayor Karl Dean continued three guiding principles for the city’s budget: keeping taxes low, prioritizing public services and continuing to invest in our future.
Dean said the city’s FY 2015 budget would continue to prioritize the focus on education and mass transit, as well as add new funds for domestic violence initiatives, an Office of Public Guardian and domestic partner benefits.
“Even though we are now sailing high, we can’t let up,” Mayor Dean said. “We need to keep pushing forward with the same approach that led us to the success we’re enjoying today. The State of Nashville is good. And our outlook for the future is even better.”
Dean announced that Metro’s operating budget would include an additional $27.5 million in new funding for Metro Schools, bringing Mayor Dean’s new investments in schools since taking office to $176 million.
“Dr. Register has proposed a plan to expand Pre-K programs in Metro Schools,” Dean said. “This budget provides sufficient funds to implement that plan and continue to fund other initiatives that have proven successful.”
Dean also included $110 million in the capital plan for Metro Schools, largely for school renovations, to build on the $279 million in past capital funds Metro Schools has received since he has been in office.
Dean is also recommending funding for bus rapid transit ‘lite’ on Charlotte Pike and Nolensville Pike, building on the success of BRT ‘lite’ on Gallatin Pike and Murfreesboro Pike. BRT lite service includes updated stations, real time arrival information and fewer stops to make them faster and more efficient, but they do not used dedicated lanes. He also is funding 100 new bus shelters with $1 million in capital funds.
“At the rate our city is growing, we’re all going to need better transit services, whether you use them or not,” Mayor Dean said. “If services are better, more people will take transit, and that means fewer cars on the street.”
The FY 2015 budget will also include funds for several new initiatives and priorities, including the following:
• Implementation of Metro’s domestic violence recommendations report with creation of a Victim Resource Center, hiring of 10 additional victim advocates and creation of a General Sessions Court docket specifically for domestic violence cases
• Creation of an Office of Public Guardian to enhance the protection of those in need of conservatorship and guardianship services
• Changes to Metro’s benefit system to recognize domestic partner benefits, making Nashville the third city in Tennessee to do so
• Raises for Metro employees, including one percent across-the-board for all full- and part-time employees
• Funds to operate new facilities, including a new Bellevue branch library; DNA Crime Lab, Midtown Hills Police Precinct; Sevier Park Community Center; and park and library in Southeast Davidson County
“Nashville is a great city. We can all agree on that. But government doesn’t make our city great, people do,” Mayor Dean said. “Our job as local government is to open the doors of opportunity for the people of Nashville to do what they do best, which is create, whether it’s creating the lyrics to the next hit single, creating a business that provides jobs for other people, or simply creating a good life for themselves and their family. The people of Nashville are building this city into a better place every day, and it’s our job to help them achieve those goals.”
The State of Metro was held at the Rolling Mill Hill Greenway Overlook. Nashville recording artist and Grammy board member Ruby Amanfu was the special musical guest. Amanfu was born in Ghana and attended Hume-Fogg High School and Belmont University. She made her Grammy debut in 2013, joining Jack White on a duet.