Colored T-Shirts? Standing-Room Only? It's a Metro Council Public Hearing!



If you were online at all last night, you already know that The City Paper's Joey Garrison nearly broke the Tweet Machine reporting from the Metro Council's public hearing on Mayor Karl Dean's proposed property tax hike. As a result, we know that the Metro courthouse was packed with citizens who, naturally, were color-coordinated to show either support or opposition to the proposal. We also know that several council members were reading The Passage of Power, the fourth volume of Robert Caro's celebrated Lyndon B. Johnson biography.

At the CP, Garrison has thankfully condensed the three-hour hearing (during which, we're quite confident, speakers followed the request to avoid redundancy). A sampling, after the jump:

On Tuesday, Nashvillians took the floor for more than three hours, with both sides of the tax hike debate sharing an amount of equal time.

“This is an important step in the budget, that we hear directly from the taxpayers, and that they voice their opinions.” Metro Councilman Jason Holleman said afterwards, still undecided on how he’ll ultimately vote.

Ashley Croft, a Metro teacher for four years, said she works a part-time retail job to make extra income, making the case for lifting Metro’s starting teacher salary to $40,000, a key part of Dean’s case for a tax increase. Dean wants to raise teacher salaries to compete with peer cities for instructors.

“Each summer around this time, I start looking at job listings in other parts of the city or other parts of the country, knowing that I simply need more to support myself,” Croft said.

But James Keeton of Cane Ridge said, “It would be foolish to continue to spend more in the face of the realities of this downturn,” adding that it is “easy to reach into someone else’s pocket for a request. Government does that quite well.

“Many say that not voting for the mayor’s budget would be a step back,” he said. “Stepping back’s not always a bad thing.”

After hearing from the people, the council passed the mayor's budget on second reading, a procedural move allowing the proposal to move on to committee. Later this month, the council will vote for the the third and final time on the budget — which, of course, includes the property tax increase.

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