The Davidson County Election Commission verified enough signatures were collected in the latest property tax ballot initiative — though it has not yet determined whether it should go before Nashville voters.
Commissioners voted 5-0 Thursday to certify 12,369 signatures were gathered, going beyond the threshold needed using the August election to determine the number.
Another signature review took place after the commission voted Saturday to use the August election — with a lower voter turnout than the more recent November election — to determine the number of signatures needed for a special election.
Commissioners on Thursday did not address concerns about two versions of the petition circulated for signatures. The issue alone, Metro Legal Director Bob Cooper previously argued, disqualifies the petition.
The election commission deferred debate Thursday on whether the proposed Metro Charter amendments — which critics say have multiple legal flaws — are appropriate to place on the ballot.
They are set to meet next week to discuss the legal opinion of Vanderbilt Professor James Blumstein, whom they voted to retain as their legal counsel.
Blumstein warned next week may be “really too soon” to provide a thorough report. He is offering his services at a “reduced” rate with a $25,000 cap. Austin McMullen, of the Nashville law firm Bradley, also was hired to assist.
When the commission votes will determine when a special election can be held. The deadline for a June election, as written on the petition, already has passed. It can only be set, at the earliest, 75 days after being approved by the panel.
If an election is held, it would come after city officials have approved a final operating budget for next fiscal year and set a new tax levy — creating the potential for further tumult as the petition group 4 Good Government seeks to limit the city’s property tax rate. They also want to cap future increases to 3% without voter approval.
Other proposed changes the petition seeks voter approval for include:
- Eliminate lifetime or other benefits for elected officials.
- Require any charter amendments approved by voters after Jan. 1, 2021, to be amended only by voters.
- Block any transfer of publicly owned land without the support of 31 council members, and require the transfer of any property valued at $5 million or more, and leases extending 20 years, go before voters.
- Have any Nashville pro sports facilities or related commercial facilities “revert to public property” if no games are played for more than 24 months or if a team leaves Nashville.
- Lower the amount of signatures needed to trigger a recall election from 15% to 10% of the people who voted in the district or area of the official in the preceding Metro general election, while also extending the days to collect signatures from 30 to 75 days of the date the notice is filed. Prohibit the recalled official’s name from appearing on a recall ballot, though that person may qualify as a write-in candidate.
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