NASHVILLE, TN — In his State of Metro Address on Tuesday, Mayor David Briley laid out his vision for a stronger Nashville and emphasized four main priorities: education, public safety, building economic prosperity, and quality of life.
Mayor Briley listed a series of accomplishments in just one year in office that all fall in line with these priorities.
He began by reiterating that the state of Metro is strong. He pointed to four leading companies that are adding more than 8,600 jobs Nashville and how the average wage here is growing faster than any other area outside of San Francisco, Seattle and Silicon Valley. He also reminded the audience that crime is down in nearly every category. 15 million people visited our city last year, as well.
The Mayor then talked about how equitable growth – not simply growth itself – will help build a stronger Nashville, comprised of his four main priorities.
Education remains top priority
Mayor Briley touted a couple recent successes at Metro Schools to show some of the good things happening in our schools: Maplewood High School – where students built a national literary movement called Project LIT – and Napier Elementary, which through community involvement and investment was able to get off the Priority Schools list.
The mayor then continued his critique of the School Board and discussed how in-fighting at the district level and at the School Board has prevented a measure of forward thinking at MNPS. As the Mayor isn’t allowed to dictate how the Board uses the district’s funding, he again urged them to give teachers and staff a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) with the increased funding that the board will receive in the FY2020 budget.
Briley also spoke about Nashville GRAD, his scholarship program that is designed to improve the rate of completion for students at Nashville State Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Nashville.
The Mayor acknowledged the tight budget that was put out last year and that by living within our means for a year, we were able to give Metro’s police, firefighters and other employees a 3 percent COLA this year.
He then announced that he will recommend increasing starting pay for Metro police by 6.4 percent. With the COLA and proposed pay plan adjustments, all Metro full-time employees in Metro’s general pay plan will make at least $15 per hour.
Another key to public safety, he said, was Project Safe Nashville, Nashville’s largest ever inter-agency to get guns off our streets. He went on to say that while homicides are down in Nashville, too many young adults are getting their hands on guns.
Before moving on from public safety, Mayor Briley spoke about his $100,000 direct appropriation to the nonprofit Sexual Assault Center to ensure proper resources, as well as the recent opening of the Metro Family Safety Center.
Building Economic Prosperity
Building a stronger Nashville, the mayor said, means we must work to ensure that everyone who lives here has access to economic opportunity.
Briley discussed his historic Equal Business Opportunity program, that helps minority- and women-owned businesses have an equal opportunity to compete for Metro contracts. He also spoke about his executive order that made Nashville the first city in the South to recognize LGBT-owned businesses in its procurement process.
The Mayor detailed his Under One Roof 2029 initiative, the city’s largest-ever investment in affordable housing. Metro will invest $500 million over the next 10 years and is calling on the private sector to invest an additional $250 million to address the challenge.
Quality of Life
In his last capital spending plan, Mayor Briley designated $351 million to improve our city’s infrastructure, including schools, parks, sidewalks, roads, affordable housing, a new library in Donelson, a new park in Antioch and much more.
The Mayor reminded people that one of the first things he did upon entering office was to make the former Greer Stadium site a park that would honor the history of Fort Negley and the slaves who died building it.
He then touched on his sustainability efforts in the face of climate change: his Root Nashville campaign to plant 500,000 trees in Nashville in the next 10 years, increasing the frequency of curbside recycling, Metro’s work to double the amount of solar panels on city buildings and the continued work of Metro General Services to make the city’s buildings and vehicle more sustainable.
In closing, the mayor issued this statement, which received a standing ovation:
“We’ve been called the friendliest city. We’ve been called the ‘It City.’ But those labels came from the outside. It’s time for Nashville to earn a new label, a label we give ourselves: The Most Equitable City.”