I'm glad to see a modest proposal to ensure that the very people that help craft and manage Metro policies are going to have to live under them. Councilman Charlie Tygard is introducing legislation to the Metro Council that would require
Mayor’s Office employees and employees of the Metro Council office to live within Davidson County if they earn $100,000 or more annually (City Paper)Falling outside this legislation but of serious concern:
The statistics showed that by far the city’s public safety departments employ the highest number of workers who live outside Nashville: 432 police employees live outside the county, receiving about $21.3 million in annual salary dollars, and 526 fire workers live outside the county, earning approximately $28.4 million in annual salaries, according to the statistics.Allowing employees to live elsewhere has created a form of absentee landlordism. Imagine what having 432 extra police officers living in our neighborhoods could do to our crime rates. Imagine the improved response time when 526 emergency workers are closer to us in the event of a natural disaster. Many of them have had to make the difficult decision of choosing to live in the city they care for and providing the best education possible for their children--a very hard choice indeed.
In addition, six Metro department heads do not live in Davidson County, as well as six employees of the 39-member Mayor’s Office. In total, roughly 27 percent of Metro employees live out-of-county, receiving about $124 million of $413 million in total salary dollars Metro pays annually.
Missing from this list of employee groups is teachers and support staff not living in Davidson County. Other than property tax rates nothing impacts our city like the schools and when 28.6% of our teachers are not putting their own children in the system they help craft and many not even living in the city we have a serious problem. A few people fussed at me in my school board race regarding my own children not being in the system--why the silence and even support for these folks?
When these people leave the county they are not part of the natural pressure that would be created to force change in our schools and government. These people know the systems intimately and they're choosing to leave. We've got to wonder why.
On a related note Ben Cunningham's Tennessee Tax Revolt group has had their signatures certified and their initiative to allow voters a direct voice on property tax increase will be on November's ballot.
Don Driscoll, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 205 that represents Metro employees and who opposes the measure, said he could not say whether the union would take any legal action if the measure passes. Both Metro and the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office have expressed doubts about the concept’s constitutionality.
Still, Driscoll was biting in his attacking of the idea, saying he believes it could damage the city’s education and health care systems. (City Paper)
Perhaps if more of these employees actually lived and paid property taxes in the city Mr. Driscoll's concern for his union members could be mitigated. Regardless, I believe our city would be better off with both CM Tygard's and Mr. Cunningham's proposals.