Metro councilman working on bills that would increase taxes - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Metro councilman working on bills that would increase taxes for AMP

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Metro councilman is working on three bills that would create a dedicated funding source for mass transit in Nashville. All of which would cost the taxpayers of Davidson County more money.

Longtime councilman Charlie Tygard says he's participated in a lot of conversations over the years about mass transit in Nashville, dating all the way back to 1994. He says there's one thing missing from the city's most recent debate.

"In my thinking, we've put the cart before the horse," Tygard said. "We're not talking about ways to sustain this and pay for it."

Signs in the yards of residents who are against the proposed rapid bus line called AMP have been going up for months. Now, those in favor of the project have unveiled a petition with 2,000 signatures.

Tygard says all of it, including a recent series of community meetings, is premature.

"What are people willing to pay? Anything? I don't know. Are you willing to vote for a higher sales tax so when you go to the grocery store you'll pay more for milk and bread?" Tygard said.

But those questions could soon have answers as Tygard's three pieces of legislation would generate money for a dedicated funding source for mass transit but will also cost taxpayers.

"These are ideas other communities have used to create this dedicated source. I don't know if they're good ideas or bad ideas, but the time has come. We can't continue to fight among ourselves over particular routes before we decide can we afford it?" he said.

In a statement to Channel 4 News, a spokesperson for Mayor Karl Dean said the AMP doesn't require a tax increase and the mayor doesn't support Tygard's legislation to raise taxes.

That begs the question, where will the $100 million needed from Metro come from?

One of Tygard's bills would raise the license plate fee by $20 in Davidson County for all private and commercial drivers.

Another would make a request to the state and federal government to allow Metro government to implement a specialized tax or fee on things like emissions testing.

And the last would involve a sales tax hike, which would have to be approved by voters.

City officials say they expect the $175 million needed to come from a host of places, including the federal and state government, as well as in the Metro council's capitol budget.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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