Tuesday night, Metro Council members voted 31-3 to overwhelmingly pass the 2023 budget that will fund the Metro government during the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The budget passed by Council includes funding for all the key initiatives Mayor John Cooper outlined in his ‘Agenda for Neighborhoods and Families’ in April, including pay raises for bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and paraprofessionals; significantly more resources to bolster core city services; 157 new first responders across Metro departments; and more funding to expand affordable housing.
“It’s been said that a budget shows a city’s values better than any words can. I’m 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 Cooper. “Our Agenda for Neighborhoods and Families is moving forward to support good schools, clean streets, safe neighborhoods, reliable city services, sound city finances, more affordable housing, world-class parks, and live-work-play communities for raising a family. I look forward to working together with the Metro Council, all of our Metro departments and the many stakeholders and passionate residents across Nashville to implement this vision in the year to come.”
Some of the key provisions passed in this year’s budget include:
- A record investment in Metro Nashville Public Schools for the second year in a row, up nine percent for 2023 after a nine percent increase last year as well, in the 2022 FY budget. These new investments are one year after making Nashville’s teachers the best paid in the state. It’s how Metro creates the best possible circumstances to recruit and retain the best public school teachers in the country.
- Paid family leave for all MNPS employees for the first time ever, a generational request Metro is finally able to fulfill.
- Significant increase of resources and manpower at the Department of Transportation (focusing on maintenance, safety and engineering) and analyzing traffic patterns to reduce traffic and congestion across Nashville.
- More Homeless Impact Division staff, which have been increased 92% over the past two budgets.
- Over $20 million annually to create affordable housing, in addition to ARP funds. The rate of investment in affordable housing has increased by five fold since Mayor Cooper took office.
- Living wage of $18 an hour for all Metro employees, and the Council has extended the same standard for MNPS employees (which means all Metro and MNPS full-time employees will be paid a minimum of $18/hour next year for the first time ever).
- Adding more police officers to prioritize community safety in neighborhoods, including the opening of a 9th precinct in southeast Nashville once it is fully staffed and built.
- Adding more first responders, including firefighters, EMS units, and 911 call dispatchers to decrease response times and help reach the national standard for firefighters per truck.
- Adding more Parks employees to properly maintain the 178 parks and 15,000 acres of green space, including fully staffing community centers and expanding greenway access.
- Increased investment for maintenance along our roads, bikeways, and in our alleyways (to sweep streets, clear brush, and keep trash out of storm drains and groundwater), including 12 new positions to remove trash and litter. In the last month alone, instances of litter reported by residents has decreased by half.
- A 20% increase in waste service to increase the reliability of trash pickup and ensure Metro has the capacity and resources to quickly make up for any shortfalls in trash collection if they were to arise.
- Adding a fifth crew to repair potholes in driving lanes, crosswalks, and bike ways to decrease the time between when they are reported and when they are repaired to under 72 hours.
- Investing in being a city that cares about its history and what it looks like by hiring a city architect to incorporate community feedback and quality design into major projects, and hiring a city archeologist to provide in-house assessments of historic sites, including those associated with Native Americans, the Civil War, and early African American neighborhoods.
- Hiring new staff across Codes, Planning, Water, Fire Marshal and NDOT to improve the core functions of local government. This will help us alleviate the strains growth can put on the city and its residents and impact customer service.
“I’m grateful for the work by the mayor and Metro Council to reduce the budget deficit caused by the state’s continued underfunding of Nashville’s students and the focus on ensuring MNPS support staff have a livable wage that will allow us to better retain and recruit employees who ensure we can provide services vital to a great public education,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools.
“Churches, resident groups, and neighborhood nonprofits have always provided life-saving services, and forever will,” said Kara James, executive director of The F.I.N.D. Design. “People do the work they are put on this earth to do with resilience and consistency. I am excited that Metro is intentionally supporting, organizing, and training organizations that are boots on the ground and making a real impact. Because of this, Mayor Cooper and the Council’s new budget investment in community safety, I believe, will make our neighborhoods stronger and safer.”