Clock is Ticking on Tax Revolt Measure

Attorney Jim Roberts (right) takes a moment before dueling with Metro Attorney Lora Fox (left) in Chancery Court November 22, 2019.

NASHVILLE, TN – Two hundred thirty thousand petitions for the 2021 Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act were mailed to voters last month. It’s the second attempt by 4GoodGovernment to rein in Metro spending by capping annual increases in the property tax at 3%. It also would end lifetime benefits for elected officials and make it easier to recall them.

“We need 33,000 valid signatures,” Attorney Jim Roberts said. He said petitions have to be filed with the Metro clerk by March 21. Under the city charter, referendum petitions must be filed 80 days before an election. That is set for June 14, 2021.

“I suspect we’re about half way there,” Roberts said. His kitchen table is covered with stack of petitions, with perhaps 15 thousand signatures.

“I’m getting nervous. They are not coming in like they did before,” Roberts said. The recent snowstorm closed the Church Street post office where 4GoodGovernment petitions are sent. Roberts is hoping a lot of petitions are waiting on the loading dock to be picked up.

“We’re still very optimistic,” he said.

The referendum petition has 6 separate amendments, unlike the last attempt, which Chancery Court Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled against last October.

Amendment #4 takes a swipe at Metro Council and City Hall by writing them out of changes to the city charter made by a voter referendum.

Amendment #5 is a direct rebuke to city officials who voted to give away 10 acres of the Nashville Fairgrounds for private development as part of the soccer stadium deal.

Amendment #6 is specifically aimed at Nashville SC owner John Ingram whose money is building the stadium at the Fairgrounds. It states that if the team doesn’t play in the stadium for 24 consecutive months during the 30-year ground lease, all sports facilities, including any “ancillary” development, would revert to public property and all related contracts would be cancelled.

Roberts said that 4GoodGovernment has raised about $80,000 for the petition drive and they plan on running 10 days of radio ads promoting the effort beginning March 4. “We want to get people moving. The snow really hurt us but time is running out,” he said.