Briley Administration threatens general fund; says parking privatization already baked into budget

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Today, State Representative John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville), candidate for mayor of Nashville, and other members of the Davidson County state legislative delegation met with eight Metro officials. The meeting was requested by Mayor Briley’s office after a member of the Davidson County delegation initiated work on state legislation to address residents’ many concerns about the mayor’s plan to privatize public parking.

During the meeting, an assistant finance director confirmed that the parking company’s upfront payment is necessary for this year’s Metro budget numbers to work and threatened to pull an equal amount of money out of the general fund if this privatization deal is not completed.

The eight Metro officials dispatched to the State Capitol by Briley this morning included the mayor’s chief of staff, the ECD director, the Metro legal director, the chief strategy officer, two assistant finance directors, and Metro Council liaisons.

Following this meeting, state Representative, and candidate for Mayor John Ray Clemmons issued the following statement:

“Since joining the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2014, I have led the fight against the privatization of our state parks and prisons at the state level. After meeting with members of Mayor Briley’s staff this morning, I am more convinced than before that Metro’s desire to privatize parking in Nashville is a raw deal that has been cut  to fill a budgetary shortfall and will only hurt our families and neighborhoods in the long-term.

“Several concerns by my colleagues were confirmed by the Metro officials. Multiple cities across the country have shown that privatized parking is a failed model, as Nashville would no longer retain the full value of its parking or full control of our roadways. It would result in higher fees and fines, longer pay-for-parking hours, and allow for expansion of meters into residential neighborhoods outside the existing footprint. This deal would also make infrastructure and public transit improvements more difficult in the future, because any upgrades would require negotiations with a private company.

“Perhaps most concerning, an assistant finance director confirmed that the parking company’s upfront payment is necessary for this year’s Metro budget numbers to work and threatened to pull an equal amount of money out of the general fund if this privatization deal is not completed.

“I am increasingly concerned that this mayor would rather sell off Nashville’s future for a one-time budgetary gain than make the tough decisions necessary to ensure Metro’s long-term fiscal integrity. This decision exemplifies what’s wrong with too many state and Metro policies — an eager willingness to benefit corporations at the expense of families. I hope that all Nashvillians will see the decision to privatize parking in our city for the short-sighted corporate giveaway that it is and communicate their opposition this proposal.”

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