Opposition to the Nashville transit plan is growing. Or at least it is organizing.
A PAC NoTax4Tracks PAC today announced their support for an effort to let voters know the full cost of the city’s light rail transit plan.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry unveiled plans for a $5.2 billion public transit plan that, if passed, will completely revolutionize travel in the metro area and, once its 15-year construction completes, will include 26-miles of light-railways, totally redesigned bus transit in both service and quality, and a massive rail-and-bus tunnel with underground stations that bypasses the busiest part of the city.
However, critics are claiming the plan will in fact cost up to $9 billion. They want the word out, and have been raising support and plan to attend public meetings. Many critics have strongly focused on the light-rail heavy Nashville plan, citing it as outmoded, unecessary and expensive.
“What happens in Nashville is the bellwhether for what transit will look like in the rest of the region,” Melissa Smithson, speaking for NoTax4Tracks, said.
The billion-dollar plan has two equally important parts, though only one deals with transportation. The other part is that Mayor Barry is asking her constituents to vote for a sales tax increase that will increase the price of almost everything they buy in a Davidson County store by 1 percent. The plan proposes a 1 percent sales tax increase, stepped up in half-percent increments in July 2018 then 2023. Along with a variety of lesser taxes and fees slightly increased, the sales tax increase by state law must be put to a public vote. So the success or failure of an urban transit system in Nashville in the foreseeable future will be decided on May 1.
Metro Councilmembers John Cooper and Tanaka Vercher want the May ballot language to include the full $9-billion-dollar costs. Their amendment would give voters the transparency they need to make an informed decision. The amendment is available here.
If states, essentially, that voters’ ballots would say: “The capital cost of the program is estimated to have a present-day value of $5,354,000,000 and a total cost for the transit system of $8,951,062,000, with recurring annual operating and maintenance costs of approximately $99,500,000.”
“The city does not want voters to know the full costs of the light rail plan. That’s wrong.” said Smithson. “Voters need to know it’s going to cost $9-billion and give us the highest sales tax in the nation. We’re asking everyone in Davidson County to let their council members know they support transparency.”
The metro council could vote on the measure this week.