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Metro Council unanimously approves city budget

by PRIDE Newsdesk
The Metro Council has approved the new budget.

On Tuesday, Metro Council members voted to unanimously pass the 2024 operating budget that will fund 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 April State of Metro address, including $100M in new spending for Metro Nashville Public Schools, fully-funding the Barnes Fund to create more affordable housing, new resources to combat homelessness, and new spending across Metro’s first responders and emergency management departments.

“Four years ago Metro’s finances were broken and our cash reserves were depleted. Basic city services were being underfunded and the state threatened to take over our finances. Tonight, Metro Council passed a budget that would have been unthinkable just four years ago by strengthening our historic investments the past few years in education, public safety, housing, infrastructure and other core government services,” said Mayor Cooper. “We’re building on what works, and we’re innovating to meet new challenges. Mostly important, we’re creating a platform for the future so that Nashville can be a city where every resident and every neighborhood thrives.”

Metro Council also approved an additional $125.7 million in one-time spending and additional reserves as a result of surplus funds available after meeting Metro’s fund balance policy threshold. The Metro Council ordinance establishing the new policy directs that any surplus may be used for non-recurring expenditures, debt reduction or the establishment of additional reserves.

The FY24 Budget Ordinance includes a number of new initiatives that will make a meaningful impact in the lives of Nashvillians:

  • Nearly $100 million in new operating spending for Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Nearly $61 million in new spending to increase wages for Metro employees, particularly for police, firefighters and EMS, making it the largest pay plan increase in Metro history
  • $6.4 million new funding for litter and street sweeping, right-of-way striping, streetscape, right-of-way enforcement and other projects to make our streets cleaner and safer
  • Significant funding increases for affordable housing, including the Barnes Fund at $30 million
  • A pay increase for principals and associate principals in addition to raises for teachers and support staff
  • $23.5 million new funds for NDOT to expand projects like Vision Zero, traffic calming, sidewalks, and construction planning for MTA for the Murfreesboro Bus Rapid Transit corridor to BNA
  • $8M for no-cost meals to ensure every single student receives a free school lunch
  • Nearly 100 new first responder positions, including additional police officers to fully staff 9th Police Precinct in Southeast Nashville
  • 21 new positions to fund a fleet overnight service program so vehicle maintenance and repairs will be faster
  • Expanding Partners-in-Care co-response model to additional police precincts
  • $50k for a mail-in gun lock program to provide free gun locks to residents
  • Funding for the new Office of Homelessness
  • Fully funds operation for all Parks Community Centers to be open on Saturdays
  • $12.7M increase to the Metro and Regional Transit Authorities to fund continuity of service, pay plan, and Better Bus Enhancements. This investment meets the transit expansion goals of Mayor Cooper’s Transportation Plan authorized by Metro Council in 2020.

“The operating budget the Metro Council has just approved upholds requests from Mayor Cooper and me for a significant investment in Nashville’s overall public safety and our police officers,” said MNPD Chief John Drake. “The budget grows our authorized sworn strength by 50 to 1,658 officers, representing the third and final installment of officers to staff the new 9th Precinct on Murfreesboro Pike that will open next year. It also importantly provides the men and women of our department with much deserved pay increases that will help us retain veteran officers while also putting us in a better competitive position in the recruitment of new members to our team.

“We greatly appreciate the historic investments in Metro Schools proposed by Mayor Cooper and approved by the Metro Council, which shows a strong commitment to public education in Nashville,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of Metro Schools. “These funds will allow us to better support students with more classroom associates to ensure uninterrupted learning, retaining and recruiting great principal leaders, ensuring all students have access to no-cost meals, and building the infrastructure for more early learning opportunities for students and families.”

“The ongoing growth of our community has required this critical continued investment in our department and public safety,” said Director Chief William Swann. “This is a budget that will allow the Nashville Fire Department to add personnel and provide imperative fleet improvements to more effectively and safely serve Metro Nashville and Davidson County.”

“I am grateful to Mayor Cooper and Metro Council for working so hard on a budget that works for everyone. This budget allows us to continue to provide vital services and support to our residents, while increasing funding for more safety projects in more neighborhoods. Slowing traffic on our neighborhood streets and making streets more comfortable for residents is an important part of our work at NDOT, while also ensuring we keep Nashville beautiful and clean,” said NDOT Director Diana Alarcon. “The additional investment in Vision Zero, traffic calming, sidewalks, and the Murfreesboro Bus Rapid Transit corridor project will help us reach our Vision Zero goals and connect more people to where they need and want to go.”

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