Nashville residents are a step closer to knowing if there will be a special election for a referendum on the local government.
The ‘Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act’ petition would call off the planned property tax increase, limit the city’s ability to issue bonds and allocate public land for private projects.
“The proposed charter amendment is not legal and enforceable.,” Metro’s Law Department says in a legal opinion. “It is defective in form and conflicts with The Tennessee Constitution and state and local law.”
Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Koch will represent the Election Commission, as they ask to hear a court’s opinion on whether the measure should make the ballot. During a meeting last Friday, several commissioners raised concerns about different parts of the petition being legal.
That is what Nashville’s lawyers are building their case on.
The referendum would cancel this year’s upcoming 34% property tax increase. Metro Legal is making an argument that a past state Attorney General’s decision prevents local governments from changing the tax rate mid-year.
The law department also laid out other reasons the petition isn’t enforceable.
- The proposed amendment violates Article I, Section 20 of the Tennessee Constitution, which prohibits retroactive laws and laws impairing the obligations of contracts.
- The proposed amendment violates the state’s takings and condemnation laws.
- The proposed amendment conflicts with the Tennessee Public Records Act.
During the Election Commission’s meeting, lawyer Jim Roberts, who is representing the organizers of the petition, was clear that he doesn’t want the petition to be broken into multiple issues. Metro Legal says that too is a reason for the entire amendment to be thrown out.
If the referendum is found to be legal, the proposed special election will be Dec. 15.