Theo Morrison, the brains behind Morrison Capitol Strategies, is set to become Metro Council’s lobbyist. Though the council still has paperwork to finalize, Morrison, who has worked with everyone from the YWCA to the late Doug Henry, joined the Council Executive Committee meeting last Thursday. “Mr. Morrison is not actively lobbying for us right now,” Vice Mayor Angie Henderson told those assembled, “but we are still conferring, talking about his reporting,”
Henderson went on to explain that Morrison will be setting up meetings on the behalf of the council to build rapport with state legislators. “The mayor's office was in agreement that we were not going to be working cross purposes,” she said. “We are Team Nashville.”
As the meeting progressed, it became clear that Morrison had already been monitoring state legislation that may affect Davidson County government. He addressed Vice Mayor Henderson’s concerns over a property tax cap and indicated that there is not only one piece of legislation already filed, but an additional bill on the horizon.
It’s no surprise that Metro Nashville has had its fair share of turmoil over property tax rates; Mayor Cooper’s shocking 34 percent tax increase in 2020 comes to mind. Though, while campaigning, he stated he did not support raising taxes, Cooper framed the increase as necessary to deal with unforeseen events. At the time, Nashvillians attempted to push back with a petition, an effort reminiscent of the appeal to amend the Metro Charter and add a property tax cap back in 2006.
Though the tax increase prevailed, the council took things a step further by putting forward a new signature threshold, making it exponentially harder for Davidson County residents to petition Metro Government’s decisions in the future.
PROPERTY TAXES: THE BOTTOMLESS PURSE
Moving forward, said Henderson, the council will coordinate their messaging. “One might think, just at first glance, ‘Property tax cap, that sounds good,’ especially given what our city has been through of late,” she told the executive committee. “But really developing a very consistent, fact-based narrative that shows why that's not a good idea, potentially.”
During the mayor’s media roundtable last Friday, Metro’s Finance Director, Kevin Crumbo, also raised concerns over potential property tax caps coming down from the state. “I think it would be very harmful,” he said. “Property taxes are the most stable form of revenue that we have.”
For Henderson’s part, it’s clear that both she and other members of the council have committed to turning their frustration with “the narrative” into action. “If we have a fact-based kind of counter argument, and we get in front of things… then we can diffuse that through our chairmanship and to our members to be putting that into newsletters,” she told the executive committee. “Then we are helping to kind of build a cohort that is just not– we're not in a space where it's only, you know, a Beacon Center op-ed, or a report that goes to state legislators… like, we also need the op-ed, we need to have a response to things.”