Metro Councilman Freddie O'Connell

By Freddie O’Connell, Metro Councilman

Welcome to another edition of TLDR (for too long; didn’t read), my regular newsletter about what’s happening in the Metro Council.

We have a Metro Council meeting tonight. You can review proposed amendments and analysis of the agenda. There is a public comment period.

One of the most important and exciting things on the agenda tonight is an opportunity to raise the income eligibility limit for our property tax freeze program from $47,500 to $60,000.

What does this mean? This means more Nashvillians will be able to stay in their homes without feeling pressured to sell because of property tax increases.

Rep. Harold Love led an effort at the state to increase the threshold (which is established by the state), and now we have the local authority to apply the new cap. CM Parker is leading our local effort, and I’m an enthusiastic co-sponsor.

Ever since I first got elected in 2015 and learned about this program, I’ve been advocating for us to actively try to maximize enrollment of eligible seniors.

Back then, when we knew property values were likely to increase in the 2017 assessment, I thought this program offered an urgent opportunity for people at greatest risk of feeling the pressures of valuation leading to higher property taxes—seniors on fixed incomes—to get some relief.

Fortunately, NOAH agreed with me and joined the advocacy effort.

And I followed the lead of my colleague CM Sledge by working to identify eligible seniors in District 19 and sending hundreds of letters about this program and others that could help with affordability.

I’ve also been impressed by the leadership of Trustee Erica Gilmore, whose office administers the program. She’s been leading great outreach efforts.

But the city can—and should—do more. We have data sets across the Davidson County Election Commission, the Planning Commission, and other Metro departments that would allow us to identify people who are likely eligible to enroll.

And we have great staff and willing partners who could work with those people to complete the enrollment process or renew eligibility.

And beyond that, we can tie it into increased participation in our Financial Empowerment Center, which offers free financial counseling—and has eliminated millions in debt and increased Nashvillians’ savings by millions—and just celebrated its 10th anniversary. And increased participation in NES’s Home Uplift program, which can help people lower their utility bills with home improvements.

2025 is our next assessment year, and we should start working right now to maximize enrollment of eligible seniors in Nashville.

When we have our priorities right, we can get a lot done. We can help people stay.

Making progress on priorities like these is exactly why I’m running for mayor. And I’ll be ready on day one to do just that.

What’s Happening

While I think many of us were impressed by an option to leverage a more cost effective Medicare-based approach to Metro retiree benefits, we’ve since learned the risks, which include a significant risk that a single insurer dispute with a major healthcare institution could mean retirees losing access to doctors. I’m supportive of revisiting this issue. [RS2023-2121]

I strongly support raising the income eligibility threshold for participation in our property tax freeze program (see above). [RS2023-2159]

I expect there will be some fireworks tonight. As partner to a pediatrician, I do not support relaxing the existing restrictions on fireworks. [BL2023-1857]

I recently heard a younger Nashvillian refer to us as a “roommate city.” This is a pretty eye opening description. And it has relevance to our ongoing discussion about the definition of “family” and “overcrowding.” There are serious implications for affordability involved. [BL2022-1471]

There continues to be much discussion about the future of Belle Meade Plaza. I’m trying to track all the amendments and want to hear more about any further community discussions or compromise among CMs working on this. [BL2023-1829]

What’s Coming

Our moral document (the budget ordinance) has been filed. (Much) more on this soon. [BL2023-1867]

Having worked hard on regulating party buses, I’m interested in new legislation that would update the renewal process. [BL2023-1869]

What I’m Hearing

We’re still having trouble with trash collection, particularly at some of the multifamily sites around the city.

What I’ve Been Up To

I participated in a safety meeting at one of District 19’s newest multifamily communities, Towne.

What You Can Do

The last day to register to vote in the August election is July 5. Make sure you’re registered and that your voter registration is up to date with your current address!

Ride in the Tour de Nash!

Mayor’s Race

We are extremely encouraged to have an independent poll demonstrate publicly what we’ve been seeing internally—we’re within the margin of error to make a runoff! Now is a great time to help us get on TV.

We had our first televised forum. If you’d like more than 60 seconds worth of answers to big questions, it’s worth taking a look at my Q&A.