Metro ECC

ChapterLogo_Metro911The mission of the Metro Emergency Communications Center (“ECC”), which provides 911 service, is to serve as the vital link between the citizens and the emergency responders of Nashville & Davidson County by providing emergency and non-emergency services in a prompt, courteous and efficient manner.

SEIU Endorsements for 2019 Metro Council Runoff Elections!

vote_500x279The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205 announced their endorsed candidates for Nashville’s Metro Council runoff elections to be held on September 12, 2019.

The candidates were interviewed and chosen by a committee of rank and file members of our union. The members of this committee are Davidson County residents who work for Metro Government, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and Nashville General Hospital. This committee chose to endorse:

[NOTE: You may choose up to four different candidates for the At-Large race]

At-Large    Burkley Allen
At-Large    Fabian Bedne
At-Large    Sharon Hurt
At-Large    Gary Moore
At-Large    Zulfat Suara

District 2    Kyontze Toombs
District 7    Emily Benedict
District 13   Russ Bradford
District 16   Ginny Welsch
District 21   Ed Kindall
District 30   Sandra Sepulveda

SEIU Local 205 chose not to endorse in the race for Nashville’s mayor. Click here to find out why.

Early voting takes place from August 23 through September 7. For a complete listing of polling locations, times, and other election information, contact the Davidson County Election Commission at 615-862-8800. Members seeking to volunteer for a campaign or for get-out-the-vote efforts should contact the union’s political department.

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‘#MoralBudget’ Campaign Fights for Nashville’s Public Employees!

SEIU and MNEA members join education & community activists at a press conference at the Courthouse.

SEIU and MNEA members join education & community activists at a press conference at the Courthouse.

Local 205 did major work this year in Nashville to prepare for a budget showdown we predicted would happen when elected officials narrowly rejected adjusting the property tax rate in 2018.

Our members held town hall meetings, spoke to their friends, family, clergy, elected officials, and the media to educate them about how the government is funded and that Nashville’s financial struggles are not because of spending but because of a failure to capture the city’s explosive growth and prosperity.

When Mayor David Briley proposed a “no new taxes” budget, it was almost a guarantee that the city would not have enough revenue to properly fund the Metro school system (SEIU members work as support staff in MNPS and are among the lowest-paid public employees in Davidson County). While there was a substitute budget that was proposed to replace Briley’s, that budget failed to pass by one vote. This is the same thing that happened last year. As a result, the Metro School system remains underfunded by tens of millions of dollars and school employees again wonder how they are going to afford to live in Davidson County while housing costs are skyrocketing.

“We believe that in the court of public opinion, we have convinced most people that Nashville’s budget problems are the result of low revenues, not excessive spending and that the solution was to adjust the property tax rate,” said Brad Rayson, Local 205’s president. “In the end, though, this was an election year and we still just did not have enough council members who were brave enough to take the tough votes and do what is right for the city. We will be factoring that in to our decisions on who we support in this year’s Metro elections”.

Despite this setback, city employees did get raises and other improvements in the 2019-2020 budget, including —

Metro Government employees

  • 3% cost-of-living raise—all employees
  • ‘Step’ pay plan funded (approx. 2-4% for those who are eligible)
  • ‘Open-Range’ pay plan funded (for those eligible)
  • No health insurance premium increase for employees

Metro Nashville Public Schools employees

  • 3% cost-of-living raise in January + 3% in July
  • No health insurance premium increase for employees

Metro Action Commission employees

  • 11% raise for Teacher Assistants
  • 5% raise for all other bargaining unit employees
  • No health insurance premium increase for employees

Nashville General Hospital

  • 3% cost-of-living raise—all employees
  • No health insurance premium increase for employees
  • No contentious fight over Hospital funding or layoffs

 

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The Metro Budget: A Very Public Debate

Last April, citizens of Nashville learned that amidst an economic boom, there was somehow a revenue shortfall. Last June it became clear the shortfall was caused by a 2017 decision to set the property tax rate at the lowest point in the history of Metro government. 19 Metro Council members voted to correct that mistake in last year’s budget, but failed to win the day.

Over the past 15 months, there have been dozens of news stories, council meetings, and community meetings related to the city’s budget, revenue, and funding. Metro employees, teachers, police officers, firefighters and bus operators have been working to inform the public of the resources needed to keep up with the city’s growth. We look forward to continuing this very healthy, and very public, debate. 

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4-17-18 MNPS promises changes after I-Team investigation exposes shortage of paraprofessionals
https://www.wsmv.com/news/mnps-promises-changes-after-i-team-investigation-exposes-shortage-of/article_374e6221-e410-570a-a6ee-99feaa34c13a.html

4-17-18 Nashville property tax shortfall: Large commercial owners took home 80% of reduction
https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2018/04/17/nashville-property-tax-shortfall-large-commercial-owners-took-home-80-reduction/516303002/

4-18-18 Questioned By The Mayor, Metro Schools Defends Budget Cuts And Explains Shortfall
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/questioned-mayor-metro-schools-defends-budget-cuts-and-explains-shortfall#stream/0

4-8-18 Metro’s 911 operators face high turnover and growing vacancies
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/metros-911-operators-face-high-turnover-and-growing-vacancies

5-1-18 Briley budget falls $40M short of Nashville schools’ funding request
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/05/01/briley-budget-falls-40-m-short-nashville-schools-funding-request/569757002/

5-2-18 Mayor Briley’s proposed budget eliminates cost-of-living pay increases
https://www.wkrn.com/top-news/mayor-brileys-proposed-budget-eliminates-cost-of-living-pay-increases/1156369703

5-8-18 Schools will be spared cuts as MNPS leaders address $17M budget hole
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2018/05/08/nashville-schools-budget-cuts-funding-mnps/589593002/

5-9-18 Budget shortfall leaves Nashville teachers without raises
https://www.wsmv.com/news/budget-shortfall-leaves-nashville-teachers-without-raises/article_7e3bda59-c4d1-5836-a8db-efd59e5c9186.html

5-9-18 Nashville’s New Wall Street Crowd to Pocket 87% Savings on Property Taxes
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-09/nashville-s-wall-street-crowd-to-score-87-savings-on-home-taxes

5-14-18 Amid budget shortfall, are Nashville’s financial incentives still worth the cost?
https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2018/05/14/nashville-budget-shortfall-business-incentives-start-raise-questions/595473002/

5-18-18 How to calculate Nashville property tax, with or without proposed 50-cent increase
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2018/05/18/tennessee-property-tax-nashville-davidson-county-calculator/623340002/

5-18-18 50-Cent Property Tax Increase Proposed By Metro Councilmembers
https://patch.com/tennessee/nashville/50-cent-property-tax-increase-proposed-metro-councilmembers

5-22-18 Nashville schools board calls on parents and teachers to lobby Metro Council for more funds
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2018/05/22/nashville-schools-budget-parents-lobby-metro-council/631999002/

5-23-18 Metro Council members express hope they can find money for public schools teacher raises
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2018/05/23/metro-council-members-express-hope-they-can-find-money-nashville-public-schools-teacher-raises/636979002/

5-24-18 Amid Talks Of School Budget Cuts, Paraprofessionals Contemplate The Future
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/amid-talks-of-school-budget-cuts-paraprofessionals-contemplate-the-future

6-1-18 ‘The perception is Metro left money on the table’
https://www.tnledger.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=107064

6-5-18 Homes in Wealthy Neighborhoods Received Property Tax Decrease
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/on-the-rise/homes-in-wealthy-neighborhoods-received-property-tax-decrease

6-6-18 Groups Beg Metro Council To Raise Taxes To Fund Raises For Teachers And City Employees
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/groups-beg-metro-council-raise-taxes-fund-raises-teachers-and-city-employees#stream/0

6-6-18 Teachers, unions push property tax hike as Nashvillians sound off on budget woes
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/06/06/nashville-teachers-unions-push-property-tax-hike-they-sound-off-budget-woes/671278002/

6-12-18 Does Metro Need More Money?
https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/features/article/21008851/does-metro-need-more-money

6-13-18 Growing Debt Blamed For Budget Shortfall
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/growing-debt-blamed-for-budget-shortfall

6-14-18 Nashville budget proposal: $2 million in cuts — but not enough for fully-funded schools, pay hikes
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/06/14/metro-nashville-budget-cuts-mnps-funding/703783002/

6-19-18 Winners & losers: What’s at stake in Metro’s budget debate
https://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2018/06/19/winners-losers-whats-at-stake-in-metros-budget.html

6-19-18 Here’s how much Nashville tax revenue goes to developers instead of schools
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/06/19/nashville-schools-budget-shortfall-how-much-tax-revenue-lost-development-incentives/714793002/

6-20-19 Nashville Council Rejects Property Tax Hike, Finalizing Budget That Pinches Schools And City Staff
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/nashville-council-rejects-property-tax-hike-finalizing-budget-pinches-schools-and-city-staff#stream/0

6-21-18 Nashville Already Anticipating An Even Tougher City Budget Next Year
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/nashville-already-anticipating-even-tougher-city-budget-next-year#stream/0

6-21-18 Frustrated With Mayor’s Power Over Budget, Metro Council To Hire Its Own Finance Guru
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/frustrated-mayors-power-over-budget-metro-council-hire-its-own-finance-guru#stream/0

6-26-18 Nashville’s Metro Council Reeling with Money Woes
https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2018/jul/26/nashvilles-metro-council-reeling-with-money-woes/

7-1-18 Musing City: What kind of place does Nashville want to be?
https://www.governing.com/topics/urban/gov-nashville.html

7-11-18 After Tumult, Nashville Mayor Wants Focus On ‘Fundamentals’ Of Education, Safety, Prosperity
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/after-tumult-nashville-mayor-wants-focus-fundamentals-education-safety-prosperity#stream/0

7-16-18 If Nashville has more taxpayers than ever before, why is it short on money?
https://fox17.com/news/local/if-nashville-has-more-taxpayers-than-ever-before-why-is-it-short-on-money

7-25-18 Metro departments asked to cut budgets amid shortfall
https://fox17.com/news/local/metro-departments-asked-to-cut-budgets-amid-shortfall

8-20-18 Budget Shortfall Forces ‘Change of Direction’ For Metro Fire Department
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/budget-shortfall-forces-change-of-direction-for-metro-fire-department

8-24-18 Report Sheds More Light On Metro Schools’ Shortfall, Spending Trends
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/report-sheds-more-light-metro-schools-shortfall-spendinhttps://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/metro-government/article/21022177/mayor-appoints-five-to-new-budget-study-groupg-trends#stream/0

8-30-18 Budget Shortfall Impacts Sheriff, Police Departments
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/budget-shortfall-impacts-sheriff-police-departments

9-13-18 Mayor appoints five to new budget study group
https://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/metro-government/article/21022177/mayor-appoints-five-to-new-budget-study-group

9-21-18 ‘No crisis,’ Mayor Briley says of Nashville’s finances, affordable housing. Others push back
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/09/21/nashville-mayor-david-briley-says-no-crisis-city-finances-housing/1356248002/

11-28-18 Council members tie Amazon incentives to raises
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/some-metro-council-members-call-for-metro-employee-pay-raise

11-29-18 Why Nashville seems broke even as the city grows
https://fox17.com/news/local/why-nashville-seems-broke-even-as-the-city-grows

11-29-18 Metro employees feel ‘left behind’ after no pay raise
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/metro-employees-feel-left-behind-after-no-pay-raise

11-29-18 Nashville schools needs to sell property or risk cuts. Seven sites that could help close the budget gap.
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2018/11/29/nashville-schools-capital-list-and-cuts-fund-schools/2136609002/

12-4-18 Nashville council votes to prohibit selling Metro land for budget fixes
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/12/04/nashville-council-votes-prohibit-selling-metro-land-budget-fixes/2207303002/

12-28-18 Briley ‘Committed’ to Avoiding Tax Hike in 2019, Planning Listening Tour
https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/21038856/briley-committed-to-avoiding-tax-hike-in-2019-planning-listening-tour

1-15-19 News4 analyzes Nashville’s finances, debt
https://www.wsmv.com/news/news-analyzes-nashville-s-finances-debt/article_aded1050-18c9-11e9-9e73-d7dd3f3e5f15.html

1-16-19 Project Nashville: Sounding the alarm on fire station safety
https://fox17.com/news/project-nashville/project-nashville-sounding-the-alarm-on-fire-station-safety

2-7-19 Project Nashville: Brain damaged firefighter wants Metro to hire more employees
https://fox17.com/news/project-nashville/project-nashville-brain-damaged-firefighter-wants-metro-to-hire-more-employees

2-14-19 Project Nashville: Do Metro Government budget decisions impact your insurance premiums?
https://fox17.com/news/project-nashville/project-nashville-do-metro-government-budget-decisions-impact-your-insurance-premiums

2-19-19 Metro Police officers leaving the department due to low morale
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/metro-police-officers-leaving-the-department-due-to-low-morale

2-26-19 Project Nashville: Funding Firefighters
https://fox17.com/news/project-nashville/project-nashville-funding-firefighters

3-5-19 Nashville teachers, employees would get 3 percent pay raise in proposed 2019-2020 budget. Some say it’s not enough.
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/03/05/mnps-pay-raise-2019-2020-budget/3066022002/

3-6-19 Briley turns to Music City Center for more help ahead of another tight budget
https://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2019/03/06/briley-turns-to-music-city-center-for-more-help.html

3-14-19 Project Nashville: Teacher’s aide takes stand after Metro government’s broken promises
https://fox17.com/news/project-nashville/project-nashville-broken-promises

4-11-19 Project Nashville: Why are teachers without books in the ‘IT city’?
https://fox17.com/news/project-nashville/project-nashville-why-are-teachers-without-books-in-the-it-city

4-17-19 Teachers rally for full funding of Metro Schools at budget meeting
https://fox17.com/news/local/metro-schools-leaders-present-budget-to-mayor-briley

4-25-19 Nashville to get $300M in deal with private company to take over on-street parking
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/04/25/nashville-street-parking-laz-private-contract/3562335002/

4-11-19 Here’s how parking in Nashville will change if the Mayor’s plan to privatize it passes
https://www.wsmv.com/news/here-s-how-parking-in-nashville-will-change-if-the/article_164eb68a-5cb8-11e9-b5ab-5709b0b7e9cc.html

5-2-19 More than 350 teachers across Metro Nashville school district request substitutes Friday
https://fox17.com/news/local/more-than-350-teachers-across-metro-nashville-school-district-request-substitutes-friday

5-3-19 Metro’s Budget Sends Mixed Message: Some Pay Raises, But Cuts Elsewhere
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/metro-s-budget-sends-mixed-message-some-pay-raises-cuts-elsewhere

5-3-19 More than 1,000 teachers, staff don’t show up to Metro Schools on Friday
https://fox17.com/news/local/parents-say-mcgavock-high-has-turned-into-organized-recess-with-120-teacher-absences

5-5-19 Nearly 200 MNPS teachers, staff out Monday after sickout last week
https://fox17.com/news/local/teacher-sick-out-to-continue-monday-during-teacher-appreciation-week

5-15-19 Metro Council member believes lack in tax increase are behind budget problems
https://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/metro-council-member-believes-lack-in-tax-increase-are-behind-budget-problems/2005247013

5-15-19 Nashville May Cut Bus Service And Raise Fares Because Of Budget Shortfall
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/nashville-may-cut-bus-service-and-raise-fares-because-budget-shortfall#stream/0

5-16-19 School board asks Metro to approve budget to fund 10% teacher raise
https://www.newschannel5.com/news/school-board-asks-metro-to-approve-budget-to-fund-10-teacher-raise

5-16-19 Teachers march for payraise, school board asks for $76 million at city budget hearing
https://www.wkrn.com/news/teachers-march-for-payraise-school-board-asks-for-76-million-at-city-budget-hearing/2007667429

5-16-19 Nashville teachers, protesters at City Hall to demand higher pay
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/05/16/nashville-teachers-absent-again-part-mnps-sick-out/3691484002/

5-22-19 Here Are The Two Dozen Nashville Bus Routes Facing Cuts Or Elimination
https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/here-are-two-dozen-nashville-bus-routes-facing-cuts-or-elimination#stream/0

5-29-19 Council will again consider property tax increase
https://www.nashvillepost.com/politics/metro-government/article/21070700/council-will-again-consider-property-tax-increase

5-31-19 Mayor David Briley hits ‘pause button’ on Nashville private parking deal
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2019/05/31/nashville-mayor-david-briley-withdraws-public-parking-proposal/1297931001/

6-7-19 Controversial parking deal remains key piece of upcoming budget, despite Briley’s ‘pause’
https://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2019/06/07/controversial-parking-deal-remains-key-piece-of.html

6-11-19 Council member Steve Glover proposes 3.6% property tax hike for increased Metro employee raises
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/06/11/nashville-budget-council-member-propose-3-6-percent-property-tax-hike/1418274001/

6-12-19 Project Nashville: Do Metro education dollars make it to the classroom?
https://fox17.com/news/project-nashville/project-nashville-do-metro-education-dollars-make-it-to-the-classroom

6-14-19 Nashville Mayor David Briley criticizes tax increase proposals as a third budget plan is filed
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/06/14/nashville-mayor-david-briley-criticizes-tax-increase-proposals-third-budget-plan-filed/1461283001/

6-16-19 A cruel paradox: Despite thriving economy, Nashville struggles to fund schools, city services
https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/06/16/nashville-struggles-fund-schools-services-despite-thriving-economy/1263615001/

 

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Nashville: A Boomtown in Bu$t

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Nashville’s budget is broken because we have the lowest property tax rate in the history of Davidson County at a time when the demand on public services couldn’t be higher. In 2017, city leaders irresponsibly cut the property tax rate. We need to restore the tax rate to an appropriate level.

We got a tax cut in 2017? Why didn’t I notice? How does all this work?

Every four years, the Assessor of Property calculates the value of every property in Nashville. State law says that following those calculations, the property tax rate must be changed to be “revenue neutral” so the city can’t make money from the process of appraising the property values. At the last assessment, the value of property went up because Nashville is booming. Therefore, the percentage tax on property – the tax rate — was lowered by $1.36 per $100 of assessed value, a 30% decrease in the rate.

The job of the mayor and council is to decide what property tax rate generates enough revenue to fund the city. In both 2009 and 2017, Mayor Dean and then Mayor Barry accepted the tax rate that kept revenues neutral without debating the impact on the city budget. Both times, the Metro Council agreed. Our elected officials collectively refused to make the politically difficult decisions we need them to make as leaders of our city. They made an irresponsible choice to lower the rate, which cost our city vital revenues and disproportionately benefited developers and commercial properties. This broke the budget. In 2010, the Dean administration restructured the city debt, pushing payments into the future. Much of our budget is paying for that debt now instead of our schools and other public institutions.

Another way to think about this is that Mayor Barry proposed a $394 million/year tax cut, and the Council accepted. Technically we did not “lose” revenues because the appraisal has to be revenue neutral, but we did lose out on $1.5 billion in potential revenue over 4 years.

Even though the rate dropped, people in gentrifying areas saw tax increases. In already-affluent areas (where property values are stable), taxes were cut. Taxes also went down dramatically for many big commercial properties and developers.

What About Appeals?

Appeals always happen and when property values go up as much as they did in 2017. The Barry administration’s decision to accept a revenue neutral rate became even more of a catastrophic error because it didn’t account for the appeals that were sure to come.

What about Tax Incentives (“TIF”), the Soccer Stadium and Amazon?

First, the Soccer Stadium and Amazon are future costs that have no impact whatsoever on the current budget, so they do not explain the problem. Second, if you total up all of the current Amazon-like incentives, they don’t even amount to half of the cost of a 1% raise for teachers and staff, let alone all Metro employees.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) deals from the past take $30 million from the budget. Even though that is a great deal of money, TIF is not the core problem. Existing TIF deals can’t be undone, and eliminating them wouldn’t solve the problem anyway. The budget shortfall is over $100 million when you factor in the one-time asset sales, and TIF deals are 30-year contracts we can’t change. Metro Council has stopped new TIF deals for now and is re-evaluating how they can be used, so the city is making progress on preventing future problems. But even if we could undo every TIF deal (and we can’t, by the way), we would still need to find another $75 million every year.

Didn’t Metro Council try to raise the rate last year? How much would it cost me if that had passed?

If you own a home worth $150,000, it would have cost you about $187/year. If your home is worth $300,000, you would pay an additional $375/year. That’s about $1/day. A commercial property like Opry Mills would pay $600,000 more per year. This is what it will take to fund our schools. This tax is paid by homeowners and commercial property owners only.

How will this help fix the city budget?

Each penny of property tax rate generates about $3 million in revenues. So last year’s $.50 proposed increase would have given us an additional $150,000,000. The Board of Education’s current budget is asking for $76,000,000.

Is there waste at MNPS that can be cut in order to fund teacher raises?

MNPS is a chronically underfunded school system. While there may be disagreements about school budget priorities, you can’t cut an underfunded system into being fully funded. Our schools need more money, not less.

What about the state’s responsibility for funding the schools?

The state funding formula (called BEP) is based on many factors, including on potential property tax revenue from local districts, not actual revenue. So, because Nashville’s property values are high, the state formula calculates the potential revenue the city would have to fund the schools and adds in the rest. The problem is that our tax rate is so low, the state greatly overestimates the city’s contribution. A low tax rate ends up causing underfunding at both the local and state levels.

What can I do to help?

Email or call your Metro Council representative and ask them to support a property tax adjustment that gives our schools and other public institutions the funds they need to truly serve our city.

CLICK HERE to contact your Metro Council representative >>>

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Sources:

http://www.padctn.org/services/tax-rates-and-calculator/

https://fox17.com/news/project-nashville/how-did-we-get-here-nashvilles-budget-shortfall-during-historic-growth

http://www.mendesfornashville.com/the-myth-that-belt-tightening-could-fix-the-budget/

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2018/05/18/tennessee-property-tax-nashville-davidson-county-calculator/623340002/

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/05/16/nashville-teachers-absent-again-part-mnps-sick-out/3691484002/

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Thanks to Red4Ed for content.

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SEIU Statement on Mayor Briley’s “State of Metro” Address

SEIU Local 205 issued the following statement in response to Mayor David Briley’s “State of Metro” address and his proposed budget for Metro Government in Nashville for 2019-2020:

Mayor Briley’s State of Metro address outlined a budget that is an improvement from last year. We are thankful the Mayor has prioritized fulfilling the commitment of a cost-of-living adjustment for Metro employees and for extending that to Metro Schools employees. We are also encouraged that Mayor Briley is supporting a $15/hour minimum wage for Metro employees, something our union fights to achieve for all workers.

Despite these hopeful signs, there are a lot of details about this budget and the city’s revenue projections which are still unknown. We do know that our public schools will remain underfunded, as Mayor Briley acknowledged in his remarks today. The MNPS School Board requested much more than what Mayor Briley is proposing and our teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school support staff – many of whom work two or three jobs just to get by – literally can’t afford to wait for the “multi-year, long-term approach” that Mayor Briley recommended. We hope the Metro Council will fully fund the school board’s budget request.

We share many of the goals Mayor Briley laid out in his State of Metro address, but we do not believe his vision for Nashville can be accomplished without addressing the core revenue issue that our city faces. If the mayor is correct and Nashville continues to grow, so will the demand on our schools and public services. Metro will struggle to meet these challenges until we directly confront the structural revenue problem created by Mayor Barry and the Metro Council adopting the lowest property tax rate in the history of Metro Government. That decision in 2017 was effectively a large tax cut that disproportionately benefited developers and commercial property owners and is at the root of all of Nashville’s budget challenges.

Brad Rayson
President, SEIU Local 205

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SEIU Kicks Off Series of “Roundtable Conversations” About Growth & Budget in Nashville!

MetroBudget2019_GreenHills-With nearly a hundred people moving to “It City” every day, how can Nashville experience such rapid growth and yet still struggle with a revenue shortfall?

This was the topic of discussion at a community meeting held at J.T. Moore Middle School in Green Hills. Hosted by SEIU Local 205, the roundtable discussion featured perspectives from Metro Council members, labor leaders, and city employees who are dealing with the direct impact of an exploding city population using limited resources.

The discussion began with some sobering statistics. In the last decade, the city’s population has increased by over 17%. This population growth brings with it a host of issues that require local government services and people to provide them and yet, Metro departments have lagged far behind the city’s growth curve. Some city departments like Public Works have essentially the same number of employees as they did in 2008.

Despite Nashville’s population explosion, a development boom, an overall increase in property values, and job growth, Nashville ended up with a revenue shortfall last year which resulted in Metro Schools receiving about $37 million dollars less than they asked for. Metro Government employees, who rely on cost-of-living raises to keep up, watched as their COLA raise was taken away even though the council had voted to approve it the previous year.

Several Metro employees participated in the roundtable discussion and shared their perspectives on how growth and budget shortfalls are impacting their work and their families. Alisa Franklin, a call taker at the Department of Emergency Communications, described a high-stress environment that results in burnout and high turnover. “Some of our call takers are working 12 to 16 hour days to make sure the city is served properly,” Franklin said. “We’ve got people who do that on a daily basis because we are dedicated.” She also described the department’s struggle with retaining good people since their starting salary is only $15.60 in one the most expensive urban markets in the state. “It’s hard for us to keep people here because they can go to work somewhere else for the same money doing easier work and not have all the stress.”

Panelist Chris Gill is a paraprofessional working in Metro Nashville Public Schools and assists children with developmental disabilities. Gill, a former U.S. Army captain, questioned how he and his co-workers – many of whom have college educations – are able to live in Davidson County with a salary that forces many of them to have second jobs. “I love my job, but I shouldn’t have to take a second job to keep my first job,” Gill said. “Everyone says ‘we appreciate your service’, but if you really appreciate our service, pay us what we’re worth.”

Tyrone Jolley works for Metro Water Services in the Development Services division, which is ground zero for the development boom in Music City. His office deals with project engineering, planning, permits, and inspections. “On any day of the week, you can come down to our office at 7:30 am and see a line of people waiting to get in,” Jolley said. “We used to have some slow periods but we haven’t seen any of that in the past four years. It is non-stop.” Jolley, who’s worked for Metro Water for over 20 years, received no raise in 2018.

Watch the comments from SEIU members here

Mark Young, local president of the International Association of Firefighters and James Smallwood, local president of the Fraternal Order of Police joined in the discussion with equally powerful statistics and stories about how a lack of funding is impacting public safety in Nashville. Whether it’s not having enough fire stations or enough police officers on the street, the failure to adjust the property tax rate as well as ongoing tax incentives to large corporations like Amazon, HCA, and others are literally putting Nashvillians at risk. A similar sentiment came from Erick Huth, president of Metro Nashville Education Association, who talked about the impact funding is having on public education in Nashville.

Councilmembers Russ Pulley, Angie Henderson, and Burkley Allen, who represent districts across West Nashville, participated in the discussion as well. When last year’s budget was being voted on, both Pulley and Henderson voted against an amended budget ordinance which would have adjusted the property tax and fully-funded Metro Schools along with city employees’ cost-of-living raises. Councilwoman Allen voted for the amended budget ordinance but ultimately it failed to pass by one vote. During an open q&a session, several attendees expressed frustration with city officials for playing politics over budget items. “Thank you for the clarification that getting elected is more important than doing the job you were elected to do,” said Lilldeus Russell, a city employee and mother who also offered a suggestion to the council members. “If we stop giving away our city to businesses which don’t need [tax incentives] and actually take care of the people who voted you into office, we wouldn’t be in this place.”

SEIU Local 205 plans to host several more roundtables on growth and the city budget across Davidson County over the next few months. For more information on future events, contact the union at 615-227-5070.

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SEIU & Allies to Metro Council: “Keep Your Promises & Pay Your Bills” to City Employees!

City employees and allies deliver a "past due invoice" for unpaid raises to the Metro Council.

City employees and allies deliver a “past due invoice” for unpaid raises to the Metro Council.

Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), presented the Metro Council with an “invoice” of $38 million, which the public sector unions say would make city employees whole after the Council reneged on a pay plan which included cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in 2018 and 2019.

The General Government employee pay plan, which was developed after two years of study, was approved by the Metro Civil Service Commission and passed the Council by a vote of 34-1 in June, 2017. But last May, the mayor’s budget did not include the cost of living raises that were included in that pay plan, forcing the Council to write new ordinances that undid their previous vote on the pay plan.

Check out the complete video of the event.

The following remarks were made during the public comment period by Richard Tippit, a Metro employee who helped present the invoice to Metro Council members:

Members of Metro Council,

We’re here tonight to deliver you an invoice for services performed by the employees of Nashville Metro Government. In July of 2017, this Council passed a three-year pay plan that included annual cost of living adjustments. This pay plan was largely seen as attempting to make up for sacrifices made by Metro employees throughout the Great Recession.

Last year, because of a self-inflicted funding problem, this Council decided it wasn’t going to pay all of its bills. You paid every other bill – you even took on new bills – but you forgot to pay one of the most important. The men and women who keep the parks clean, keep our water running, keep the libraries open, repair our roads, pick-up our trash, answer 911 calls, put out the fires and keep our communities safe are owed a 3% cost of living adjustment for last year and a 3% adjustment for this year.

The total balance due is approximately $38 million in total, $18 million of that is past due. As you begin to discuss this year’s budget, you should know this bill remains unpaid, and your budgeting should start there.  Thank you.

Here’s a news report that aired on NewsChannel 5 featuring SEIU president Brad Rayson. Nashville Public Radio ran a brief report this morning as well.

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Local 205 Vice-President Addresses Lawmakers @ First Metro Council “Public Comment” Session!

MetroCouncil_PublicComment-In the wake of a budget shortfall in Nashville and a bitter campaign by the city’s unions and community groups to get an amended budget passed, the Council began a new initiative – a “public comment” session – which permits members of the public to come before the government and speak about anything they want for two minutes.

It’s a new idea for the Metro Council, and one that SEIU took immediate advantage of. During the first night of “public comment”, Local 205’s executive vice-president, James Bradley, gave some prepared comments to the council. They touched on how he and other city employees felt about being betrayed by council members who had only a year earlier promised to fully fund a new pay plan. He also poked fun at how many council members refused to vote for a property tax adjustment (something that is a normal course of government operations in Metro) because there “wasn’t enough public input” by rattling off a list of questions that SEIU would like to have the council get input from us on over the next year while they run for re-election.

Here’s the full text of James’ comments (though he wasn’t able to complete them because time ran out):

“Good evening, members of the council. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address you this evening. My name is James Bradley and I serve as the executive vice-president of SEIU Local 205. My organization represents the men and women who work for so many of our public agencies including General Government departments, the Hospital Authority, Metro Action Commission, and we represent the support employees in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

First of all, on behalf of the thousands of city employees SEIU represents, I want to thank the 19 members of the council who voted in favor of Councilman Mendes’ budget two weeks ago. We appreciate your integrity and courage and we will not forget your support for us.

Having said that, we will also not forget the 20 council members who voted against us.

You are the people I would like to direct my public comments to this evening.

Two weeks ago when you voted on the budget, we heard your speeches about how there wasn’t enough “public input” on correcting the property tax rate. Every member of this council knows full well that correcting the tax rate has never had “public input” but if we have to have more “public input” on something that you all know is necessary for the city to do, let’s start with a couple of questions to get that ball rolling:

First, how do we explain to city employees who already took cuts to their pay and raises for four years that they have to do it again while we’re in a boom? I was one of the people whose taxes went up and then didn’t get a cost of living raise. I don’t mind paying my fair share, but when do these private developers start paying theirs?

Second, how do we explain that we couldn’t find the political will to fully fund our schools but we can find it to keep giving more TIF and PILOT deals to developers and corporations? Or for a water park at Opryland that only Opryland guests can use?

How do you justify asking Metro department heads to begin preparing budget reductions for next year when you are literally getting ready to vote tonight on another tax increment financing deal?

There’s a whole host of other questions too. Like where is the accountability on these TIF and PILOT deals? Which Metro department or office is tracking whether these companies are creating all the jobs they say they are? Is privatization saving us money or costing us more while quality goes down?

Hopefully, addressing these questions over the next year while many of you are campaigning will help educate and enlighten our teachers, firefighters, police officers, bus drivers, and General Government employees who live and vote in Davidson County.

We will be watching and trust me… we will be giving you and your political opponents our “public input” in 2019. I appreciate your time and again… thanks to those of you who voted for what was right, not for what was easy.”

Who Voted FOR Us on the Mendes budget?

Bob Mendes
Sharon Hurt
Erica Gilmore
Decosta Hastings
Brenda Haywood
Brett Withers
Anthony Davis
Bill Pridemore
Doug Pardue
Colby Sledge
Burkley Allen
Ed Kindall
Mina Johnson
Kathleen Murphy
Karen Johnson
Jason Potts
Fabian Bedne
Jacobia Dowell
Antoinette Lee
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SEIU Helps Win “Paid Family Leave” Benefit for Metro Employees!

Thanks to ongoing advocacy by SEIU and its members, Metro Government employees in Nashville now receive paid family leave as part of their benefits package.

The new benefit allows Metro Government employees to have approximately six weeks of paid time off upon the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent, or child. The benefit is available for employees who have worked for Metro Government for at least 6 months. Employees did not have access to any paid family leave plan prior to passage. No state law in Tennessee or U.S. federal law currently provides for paid family leave.

The new benefit was made possible due to SEIU’s presence and activism on the Mayor’s Council On Gender Equity. The Council serves in an advisory capacity to Mayor Megan Barry and “will assess identified gender inequity issues and develop recommended solutions… that reflects the needs of all”.

Union members James Staub (Nashville Public Library) and Alisa Utley (Emergency Communications Center) were critical in the final stages of the Council’s work by providing testimony about the struggles they face. From the Council’s report:

Library_JamesStaub“…When [James’] wife found out they were expecting twins James began to worry about how he would juggle the needs of a demanding career and the needs of his family. They already had a toddler son at home and the juggling act of two working parents was difficult, before the twins. James knew that his boss would be as helpful as possible but he was concerned because he loved his job and he was good at it but he also wanted to be present in his family responsibilities. He was concerned that he would need to use all of his leave time to care for his family and then heaven forbid if he got sick himself he would be out of time and could therefore face disciplinary action.”

911_AlisaUtley“Alisa’s… mom was diagnosed with late term Leukemia. She was home bound and needed Alisa to take her to all her doctor appointments and treatments. Her Father was blind and had been cared for by her Mother but he too became dependent on Alisa for all of his daily needs. Alisa felt lucky to be able to work the overnight shift so she could care for both of her parents during the day. This went on for 8 years. During that period, the emotional stress of being a good employee and a good daughter was exhausting yet Alisa did it and continues to be a valuable employee to her department today. She says that she wished for flexibility of time so that she could have lessened the toll of caretaking and work.”

This is the end result of advocacy, action, and making politics work in favor of working people. Thanks to James and Alisa for sharing their stories with the Council On Gender Equity so that all Metro employees can enjoy this benefit which not only helps them and their families, but also ensures that the public continues to receive quality service.

The paid family leave benefit is the first item acted upon and passed by the Gender Equity Council. The Council will continue to be active for at least two more years.

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Metro Government Employees Win Raises, New Pay Plan, & New Benefits!

IMG_2728.JPGSEIU members from dozens of city departments filled the seats during the Metro Council’s Public Hearing on the city budget to make the case that public services and the people who provide them are vital to Nashville’s future.

“Having growth means nothing if regular folks can’t afford to raise a family and take part in the American Dream,” said union steward Tyrone Jolley. “Those are the priorities we need to keep focused on.”

Despite some controversy over the budget request for Nashville General Hospital, the Council voted overwhelmingly to pass the operating budget, pay plan, and other ordinances related to employees that Local 205 supported.

 

2017-2018 Budget Highlights:
METRO GOVERMENT Employees
  • 2% cost of living raise
  • Maintain step raises (2% for those eligible)
  • Shift differential increase (70¢/hr for evening shift, 80¢/hr for night shift)
  • Fund open-range raises
  • Three -year pay plan (2%, 3%, 3%).
  • Longevity pay distributed earlier (Nov. 15)
  • No cuts to department budgets, several new programs implemented

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