Nashville will soon add more scrutiny over the spending of the city government — and this time leaders in the private sector will be asked for advice.
The Metro Council almost uniformly agreed on a proposal to create a so-called “Blue Ribbon Commission” to scour the Metro budget for savings.
At-Large Councilman John Cooper suggested the idea — borrowing from
a highly-praised program in Atlanta — and said he predicts the Metro government is going to want every spare dollar possible in the next few years.
And he says the perspective of civic and business leaders will deliver new ideas.
“Cutting spending in the government is a difficult thing to do, and requires — ideally — time, expertise, attention, care,” Cooper said in a council debate last week.
The commission was created with a 34-4 vote and will form by October. One caution came from Councilman Fabian Bedne, who said he doesn’t want to see the effort turn partisan. He said people don’t always agree on what constitutes wasteful spending.
“If I say that I believe we should have cameras for the police, some people believe that to be wasteful — but for other people that’s a good idea to increase safety in the city,” he said.
In response, Cooper said none of the spending recommendations will be mandatory, as the council will still decide which advice to follow. On that theme, Councilwoman Angie Henderson said the commission cannot “absolve” the council of its fiscal responsibilities, but said the idea is welcome during a pivotal time for Metro.
“This is a statement from us as a council that we recognize … our budget process is somewhat broken. That we do need fresh eyes,” she said.
Council members say they’d like to use any savings realized by the commission for affordable housing programs and pay raises for city employees.