In February, Bordeaux Councilmember Kyontzè Toombs listened to North Nashville residents share their concerns about looming property tax increase.
Now she will run the committee that’s in charge of the city’s budget.
Toombs wants to start planning for next year’s budget six months ahead of schedule. It’s an effort to ensure the city’s spending matches what residents want.
“My goal is to simplify the process as much as possible,” she says. “To get as many people as possible to understand how the budget process works, what goes into our budget and what that decision-making looks like. ”
Toombs is approaching her first full year of being a councilmember, and former Budget and Finance Chair Bob Mendes says she was an “equal partner” when she served as the committee’s vice chair during the last budget cycle. Toombs has an MBA in finance and strategy from Emory University and a masters’ degree in tax law from the University of Alabama Law School.
Her priorities are funding education and neighborhood resources like mental health services.
“She was a strong advocate for connecting new spending to neighborhoods, including opening community centers on Saturday mornings, better funding for schools, and improving funding for smaller non-profits doing work throughout the community,” Mendes told WPLN News via email.
Toombs says she’s also open to hearing demands from community organizers like the Nashville People’s Budget Coalition, which mobilized hundreds of residents this summer to demand the council defund the police. It wasn’t implemented, but organizer and Nashville native Erica Perry says they’re in the fight for the long haul.
“For me Nashville is worth fighting for because it’s deeply personal. I know I deserve to live in a city, the people I love and care about deserve to live in a city where we have access to what we want.”
Perry says they’ll continue mobilizing residents to ensure Metro council feels the pressure.
It’ll be another challenging budget cycle as the council braces for a property assessment and the ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Toombs says starting the budget process early will allow department heads to assess how a potential decrease in funding will impact their services.
She’ll need 21 councilmembers to sign off on her proposal next June.