Smart investments, innovation, and effective management — this threefold approach represents the theme of Mayor Cooper’s budget priorities for fiscal year 2023, which he addressed yesterday at the Southeast Nashville Community Center for the 2022 State of the Metro Address.
So, what six topics take priority?
- Education investments
- Neighborhood safety
- Building + preserving affordable housing
- Addressing homelessness
- Improving city transportation + services
- Creating a greener city
Now, let’s take a closer look at proposed investments included in Cooper’s budget:
$91.2 million in funding — a new record — would go towards salary increases for all support staff to accommodate cost of living, paid family medical leave for MNPS employees, and additional social-emotional support. Think: Advocacy centers, mental health counseling, and restorative practice programs.
Metro would hire 157 more emergency response personnel across departments. The US Department of Justice announced a new Knowledge Lab yesterday, and Nashville was the first city invited to implement the program. Additionally, the city is launching a new mental health court meant to help repeat offenders unable to stand trial.
The Division of Housing will ensure housing is central to land use + development. The budget, paired with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, now sits at $150 million. The Barnes Fund budget was also increased to $15 million. A new database will track income-restricted units in Nashville.
Half of the $50 million plan would support permanent housing units in mixed-income developments over a three-year period. $9 million would go towards case management, outreach, and improving access to benefits.
Transportation + city services
$10 million in Cooper’s budget would be allocated to waste services, primarily ensuring reliability of trash collection. A fifth crew will be added to address the city’s potholes. Additionally, 13 more WeGo bus stop shelters are in progress now, and six bus shelters will be added to intersections this summer. The Bordeaux Hills neighborhood will see new speed bumps in May.
Cooper is proposing 46 more Metro Parks employees to maintain green spaces. Specific parks that will see various improvements include Hartman Park, Bordeaux Gardens, Mill Ridge Park, and Ravenwood Park. Other related safety improvements include the addition of a 14-person bike unit “Park Police.”
Cooper is expected to unveil his full proposed budget to Metro Council on Friday. From there, the council will hold budget hearings with Metro departments and propose its own substitute budget. If the council fails to pass a budget by June 30, the Mayor’s proposed budget takes effect by default.