State officials to Metro Nashville: 'Metro government is cash poor'

Metro Nashville courthouse
The Metropolitan Courthouse is located at 1 Public Square, Nashville. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Metropolitan Courthouse is located at 1 Public Square, Nashville. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)

State officials have said Metro Nashville is at risk of having state control over the city’s finances due to the city’s poor budget practices.

At a joint meeting Nov. 13 between the Nashville Metro Budget and Finance and Public Works committees, Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Justin P. Wilson gave city officials a presentation on the city’s budget, warning council members of some of the “real financial challenges” the city faces.

“During our review of Metro’s current budget, we saw things that—to say the very least—gave us pause,” Wilson said.

In his presentation, Wilson said Metro Nashville’s general fund will be nonexistent within 20 days of June 30, 2020, the end of the current fiscal year. He also highlighted the city’s expenditures have increased 138% since 2013, which has led to nonrecurring revenue being used to pay off debt, which is not sustainable.

“Cash has decreased 91%, and despite all this wonderful growth and this booming economy we have, Metro government is cash poor,” Wilson said. “We see that nonrecurring revenue is being used to pay debt, and that really gets me concerned.”


Wilson told Metro Nashville Council members that the state will intervene with the Metro Nashville’s finances provided city leaders do not adjust its current operating budget.

“Now let me be clear, the comptroller’s office does have the authority to step in and determine how you spend your money, but none of us want to see that happen,” Wilson said. “You are the ones who really should decide how many police officers you need and whether or not salaries are cut or raised. You don’t want someone in the state Capitol to tell you how to run your city, and I guarantee that I really, really don’t want to do that.”

Additionally, the state has told Metro Water Services—which provides water and sewer services to the city but does not receive taxpayer funds—that it must raise fees or it will be ordered to do so by the state.

Metro Nashville residents and businesses can expect to see an increase in their water bills beginning in February 2020. MWS officials told Community Impact Newspaper the city currently has a backlog of 60 projects to improve water lines citywide that are not yet funded.

“None of this is going to be easy, but you must think of the long term,” Wilson said. “The city is counting on you to plan for the future, and that includes having enough money to meet your obligations to your employees.”

“I’d like to recognize the State Comptroller for coming to City Hall and helping us diagnose and cure our financial problems,” Mayor John Cooper said in a statement released following the meeting Nov. 13. “We face short-term budget challenges as well as longer-term issues such as rising debt, unfunded retiree obligations, and dwindling fund balances. Reasonable reforms to our budgeting process, borrowing, and cash management will help Metro regain our footing. This morning’s announcement of Capital Spending Plan reform is only one of several reforms that will restore fiscal responsibility. I look forward to working with the State Comptroller and Metro Council to solve our fiscal challenges.”

Read more about the city’s efforts to raise revenue through new water rates in the November issue of Community Impact Newspaper, in mailboxes beginning Nov. 23.

Wendy Sturges - Dylan Aycock



MOST RECENT

Half Price Books Nashville
Half Price Books to open July 13 near Belle Meade in Nashville

Customers can visit the store beginning June 6—ahead of opening day—to sell books, movies and other items.

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know today in Tennessee. (Community Impact staff)
Cases of coronavirus in Tennessee rise by more than 700 in the last 24 hours; tests reported lower than previous days, TDH data shows

Nearly 2,800 new cases were reported over the weekend, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

Beginning July 3, Nashville will revert to a modified version of Phase 2 of economic reopening. (Alex Hosey/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bars to close due to coronavirus and more Nashville-area news

Read the latest news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the Nashville area.

Metro Nashville tornado sirens
Metro Nashville completes tornado warning system upgrades

The upgraded system provides polygonal alerts, which allow sirens to sound alarms only in areas covered by tornado warnings.

The First Street Foundation's dataset includes a forecast models that anticipate the effects of climate change and sea level rise. (Screenshot via First Street Foundation)
Analysis: FEMA may be undercounting national total flood risk by as much as 70%

The new dataset includes an interactive Flood Factor dashboard that anyone can use to assess the risk of flooding over a 30-year period for any address.

Lee said he is calling on law enforcement agencies across the state to review and update use of force and duty to intervene policies in the next 60 days. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Gov. Bill Lee calls for ban on chokeholds across all police agencies in Tennessee

Law enforcement agencies statewide will have 60 days to review their policies to ban chokeholds and require duty-to-intervene policies for officers.

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Refinancing isn't free:' How to navigate refinancing a mortgage

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments.

Tennessee coronavirus cases rise by more than 1,500 in 24 hours

The number of new cases reported has risen by an average of more than 1,000 per day for the last five days.

Drivers in Tennessee may notice some lane closures in place at long-term construction projects. (Courtesy Fotolia)
TDOT: No lane closures over Fourth of July weekend; I-440 fully reopens in Nashville

While drivers may notice some lane closures in place at long-term construction sites, TDOT announced July 2 that I-440 is now completely open one month ahead of schedule.

In communities across the nation, Walmart Supercenter parking lots will be transformed into contact-free, drive-in movie theaters beginning in August. (Courtesy Walmart)
Walmart to bring drive-in movies to 160 stores nationwide in August, launch virtual summer camp

Families can also enjoy a virtual summer camp experience Walmart is launching July 8 with sessions led by celebrities, including Drew Barrymore, Neil Patrick Harris and LeBron James.

Nashville fireworks
Nashville's Fourth of July fireworks show canceled

In place of the fireworks show, residents can watch a televised special featuring performances by local artists accompanied by clips of previous years’ fireworks displays.

Beginning July 3, Nashville will revert to a modified version of Phase 2 of economic reopening. (Alex Hosey/Community Impact Newspaper)
Nashville reverting to Phase 2 of economic reopening; Mayor John Cooper orders bars to close

As part of the modified reopening phase, bars will close for a minimum of 14 days, which public health officials said is equal to one incubation cycle of COVID-19.