Nashville’s Referendum to Repeal the Property Tax Hike is in the Courts


Mayor John Cooper

Nathan Miao

In June of this year, the Metro City Council passed a 34% increase in property taxes as a “crisis” budget in order to fund public schools and other city services and avoid mass layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act would overturn this increase. 

The Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act (NTPA) was proposed as a referendum on which Nashville residents could vote whether or not to keep the property tax increase. The referendum was created through a petition from a group called 4 Good Government that received tens of thousands of signatures. The group has not disclosed their donor information, but their leader is local attorney Jim Roberts, who has previously had his license suspended. Another group that supports the NTPA is Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the Koch brothers.

According to the 2020 Treasurer’s report to the Metro City Council, Nashville is about $4 billion in debt. The property tax increase was passed in response to lost revenues from the COVID-19 pandemic, and also after the state threatened to take over Nashville’s finances. Nashville’s economy is largely based on the tourism industry, which took an enormous hit from the pandemic. The property tax increased from $3.155 to $4.221 per $100 of assessed value.

If the tax hike were to be repealed, Nashville Mayor John Cooper has warned that the budget will have to be cut by $332 million dollars. Cooper says that such a loss in revenue will result in cuts to Metro City Schools, the fire department, the police department, and many other essential city services.

The Davidson County Election Commission voted on Sept. 25 to take the referendum issue to the courts. Oct. 26 was the first day of the trial to decide whether or not the petition can legally be put on the ballot on Dec. 5.