With the economic impact of the coronavirus still unknown for Davidson County, Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper plans to delay the release of his budget proposal for fiscal year 2020-21 as he continues to work with city leaders to present a balanced budget, according to a March 26 memo from Finance Director Kevin Crumbo to council members.

The budget proposal, which was originally slated to be announced on March 31 in accordance with Cooper’s State of Metro address, will now be released in a few weeks, Crumbo said.

"Right now, there are many unknowns about the economic impact of the pandemic, and it has become prudent to postpone delivery of a budget ordinance for a few weeks,” Crumbo said in the memo. “We are disappointed to postpone since we have been on track for successful completion of an accelerated budget process this year, and we believe the results would have led to an efficient and effective resolution to many of Metro's longstanding financial weaknesses.”

A critical review in November of the city's finances for the current fiscal year revealed a budget shortfall of $41.5 million, prompting state officials to step in and demand action from city leaders. In December, Crumbo presented to Metro Council members a corrective action plan, which included previously announced adjustments and new revenue sources.

As a result, Cooper announced Jan. 7 his plan to expedite the budget process for FY 2020-21 in order to allow time for review by Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Justin P. Wilson before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. He also called for Metro Council to approve the budget no later than May 31, one month ahead of schedule.

Crumbo said the city will immediately set in motion a hiring freeze, with the exception for public safety positions, as a way to cut spending. Additionally, the city is also banning travel for city employees and asking departments to look for cost reductions.

“One of Metro's financial weaknesses has been a thin cash position in recent years, and with the anticipation of reduced revenue streams from sales and other activities taxes at hand, we must take steps now to reduce our spending,” Crumbo said. "Our first steps will be immediately effective freezes on hiring, promotions, travel and some capital spending.”