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The TIP of the Iceberg
Photo by SIMON LEE / Unsplash

The TIP of the Iceberg

馃捀 How your money'd be spent on buses 路 State of Metro 路 Oval City losing power 路 Challengers review 路 Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

Freddie O鈥機onnell just finished delivering his State of Metro address. We鈥檒l have a recap of what he talked about tomorrow. Held at The Fairgrounds Nashville, the backdrop of the speech was, fittingly, an empty WeGo bus.

Onward.

Mayor Freddie O鈥機onnell wants to fund his transit plan by raising the sales tax by half a cent. But is this strategy as foolproof as it sounds? 

鈥淔or every $50 you spend, you鈥檒l see an extra 25 cents in sales tax on your receipt,鈥 said the mayor at Antioch鈥檚 Southeast Community Center three weeks ago describing the details of the Transit Improvement Program, colloquially known as Choose How You Move, his solution to Nashville鈥檚 transit woes. The negligible increase, he explained, would make up 46 percent of the revenue generated to cover this project.

The surcharge is projected to generate over $150 million annually, but 鈥渇or most Nashvillians, the cost will be at or under $70 per year.鈥 If passed in November, the tax increase could go into effect as early as February 1, 2025. Local revenue bonds would leverage this increase to line the city鈥檚 coffers, which would in turn get the ball rolling鈥攐r rather, the wheels turning.

There are three key selling points the mayor鈥檚 office has been using to gain support for a sales tax increase.

#1 Time is running out!

鈥淥n the federal level, Nashville has a finite and unprecedented opportunity available only if we act now,鈥 reads the plan鈥檚 outline, mirroring the urgency espoused by former Mayor Megan Barry when pitching her transit plan in 2018. It goes on to cite the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by Congress in 2021, which 鈥減rovides Nashville with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage billions in federal formula funds and competitive discretionary grants through a variety of federal grant and loan programs.鈥

The administration warns Nashivllians that the city will be at a disadvantage if we try to compete for these grant matches without dedicated transportation funding, grant matches that expire in 2026. 

#2 Everyone else is doing it!

The plan compares Nashville鈥檚 sales tax to other Tennessee areas, pointing out that it鈥檚 half a cent lower than most surrounding counties. 鈥淗endersonville residents voted to increase their sales tax to 9.75 percent on March 5, 2024 for infrastructure issues,鈥 the plan reads. The document also compares Nashville with other major US cities, conveying that Music City under-invests in both transit and transportation infrastructure.

#3 Tourists are paying for most of it!

About 60 percent of Nashville鈥檚 sales tax is paid by visitors to the city according to the document. Thus, it says, residents would only pay 28 cents of every dollar spent on program funding.

Also of note, the only authorized way to establish dedicated funding for Freddie鈥檚 transit plan is by levying this particular surcharge. The question is, once the infrastructure is in place, will the surcharge expire? Though the document states that the tax is set to sunset 鈥渨hen all outstanding debt has been repaid,鈥 the extra $150 million annual bump in revenue will be hard to let go of; after all, transit infrastructure doesn鈥檛 pay for itself. Simple napkin math reveals that revenue from bus fares will only cover two percent of this spending plan. Maintaining the current WeGo fleet relies heavily on yearly funding from the Capital Spending Plan and grants.

In recent years, we鈥檝e seen major cities roll out dedicated transit programs using Federal funding matches, only to walk them back 鈥 either by cutting services or by leaning on taxpayers. While O鈥機onnell鈥檚 Choose How You Move plan claims that the temporary sales tax is a way to prevent property tax increases, a long-term investment is just that, long-term.

If Nashvillians vote on a transit referendum in November, the choice will be about more than addressing the infrastructure needs of a growing city. Ultimately, residents will decide whether they鈥檙e dedicated to footing the bill鈥indefinitely. But on a more fundamental level, is this the best way for the city to spend $3.1 billion?



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Nashville

馃殞 State of Metro This morning, Mayor O鈥機onnell gave his first-ever State of Metro Address at the Nashville Fairgrounds. Considering there鈥檚 a petition circulating to demolish the speedway to make room for affordable housing, the venue was an interesting choice. A WeGo bus was hauled into one of the fairground鈥檚 expo centers to serve as the backdrop for the event.

For his part, O鈥機onnell highlighted the progress of his transitional committees, his transit-centric vision for the future of the city, and the helpful, oft overlooked Metro resources available to Nashvillians. You can watch the full speech here, and read the full recap in tomorrow鈥檚 newsletter.  MEGAN PODSIEDLIK

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馃 Oval City Losing Power? It鈥檚 not looking good for Ford鈥檚 Blue Oval City outside of Memphis. Earlier this week, Ford announced another cut to its battery orders after the company reportedly lost $100,000 per electric vehicle in the first quarter of this year. The move is part of a shift in Ford鈥檚 strategy in the face of flatlining demand: the car manufacturer has forecast EV losses of up to $5.5 billion this year. Back in April, Ford announced that production of its electric pickup truck would be delayed by a year to 2026 at Blue Oval City. At a similar plant in Toronto, production of the truck will be pushed up to 2027. Though the slow turn away from electric trucks is sure to gum, up the works at Blue Oval City, the company鈥 fleet of small EVs, set to debut in late 2026, will be profitable from day one. They claim. DAVIS HUNT

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馃殧 Top Cops The five MNPD officers who responded to the Covenant School shooting were recognized last weekend at the 31st annual Top Cop awards dinner in Washington DC. This isn鈥檛 the first time Sergeant Jeff Mathes, Officer Rex Englebert, and Detectives Ryan M. Cagle, Michael Collazo, and Zachary Plese have received accolades for their bravery. Around this time last year, the National Association of School Resource Officers presented the men with their National Award of Valor.

You鈥檒l recall that the responding officers neutralized the threat within fourteen minutes of the first 911 call. The MNPD鈥檚 quick, courageous response was a shining example of tactical excellence in the face of perilous duty.  After the shooting, sorrow, shock, and pain enveloped the city鈥攊ncluding the police department. While Covenant families processed their grief by leaning on one another, the officers on the scene underwent EDMR therapy 鈥 a gentle reminder that the lasting effects of such horrific events are often overlooked when reflecting on the experience of first responders. MEGAN PODSIEDLIK

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馃棧锔 Quote of the Day Comedian Bill Burr sat down with the Nashville Scene ahead of his Bridgestone Arena tour stop on Friday. 鈥淚 think the South gets a really bad rap,鈥 he says. 鈥淲hite people like to act like all the racism, all the racist white people, are just in the South, and it鈥檚 been my experience that they鈥檙e everywhere. It鈥檚 kind of like how people like to act like all the pedophiles are in Hollywood. It鈥檚 like, 鈥榊ou don鈥檛 remember To Catch a Predator? They did a bunch of seasons of that show, and they never had to go to Hollywood to find one.鈥欌 DAVIS HUNT

DEVELOPMENT

  • Cool Springs Galleria slated for major revamp with hotel, apartments (NBJ)
  • Capitol View adds restaurant; Hospitality vet demos old fire station (NBJ)
  • Goodwill pays $26M for MetroCenter property (Post)
  • Rocketown sells Antioch building for $7.15M (Post)
Off the Cuff

鉁 REVIEW: CHALLENGERS (2024)

(R 路 2h 11m 路 7.7/10) Directed by Luca Guadagnino; Starring Zendaya, Mike Faist, Josh O'Connor

In the wake of the 70s American Film Renaissance, moviegoers could count on high-budget, star-driven dramas for adults as ambitious in theme as in scope. But in a franchise-charged business, the days of Jerry Maguire and Fatal Attraction have given way to a slew of sequels, remakes, and requels as anything resembling those zeitgeist films of the past gets relegated to streaming. 

Such makes it all the more impressive that the new Zendaya film, Challengers, has inched toward becoming a pillar of late spring pop culture, especially with the casting of rising heartthrobs Mike Faist (West Side Story) and Josh O鈥機onnor (Prince Charles in The Crown). Marketed as that tennis movie where one of the last maybe movie stars orchestrates a love triangle between two lifelong boarding school bros that may or may not involve a threesome, it鈥檚 been generating buzz for nearly a year since Amazon/MGM delayed its release to wait out the Hollywood strikes.

With Italian director Luca Guadagnino at the helm, Challengers not only succeeds as a gripping and epic sports drama, but as a film unafraid to take seriously the innate human drives for dominance and competition that many of our most lauded pundits would pretend don鈥檛 exist. Challengers is obsessed with sex in both definitions of the term. It鈥檚 also a film that doesn鈥檛 need to resort to depictions of the act itself鈥攕o well cast that the slightest glance or interaction packs enough meaning to fully convey every ounce of desire.

Like his movie, Guadagnino has proven himself the rarest of Hollywood creatures: an acclaimed  filmmaker whose work often brushes up against social issues, but willingly evades a stance for the sake of its characters. While class and race are part of Challengers鈥檚 DNA, the film never devolves into a King Richard screed full of lazy depictions of rich right men stopping the rest from being seen.

For all our sakes, Guadagnino would rather put his time and energy into making the Applebee鈥檚 where two ace tennis pros finally profess their love look as cinematic as possible. Whether that love is really for each other or the game they have devoted their lives to is what Guadagnino wants us to think about. But he鈥檇 rather us do so during an Amazon release that, thanks to his love of the craft, shows an unmistakable difference between big screen cinema and the onslaught of streaming products we mainline in our living rooms. JEROD HOLLYFIELD

Entertainment

THINGS TO DO

View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

馃搮 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

馃帶 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

馃懆馃徎鈥嶐煂 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and yearly festival guide.

TONIGHT

馃幐 Stevie Nicks @ Bridgestone Arena, 7p, Info

馃幓 Beethoven String Quartet @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, Info

馃幐 Mr. Bungle @ Brooklyn Bowl, 8p, $42, Info

馃幐 Willy Tea Taylor @ Dee's Lounge, 7p, $5, Info

馃幒 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:00p, Free, Info鈥屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street

馃幐 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 8p, Free, Info鈥屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸屸
+ two-step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p