Metro Council backs transparency, input into how the city gives incentives

David Smith | GCA News

Metro Council backs  transparency, input into  how the city gives incentives. - photo by David Smith

Council members want more information on property tax breaks, cash grants, and payments in lieu of taxes, among other incentives.                                                    – photo by David Smith

The consensus of many is that Nashville is a rapidly developing city. However, many residents don’t believe this development is equally beneficial.

For years, Metro officials have relied on incentive packages, including cash grants and property tax breaks, known as payments in lieu of taxes or PILOTs, to entice big corporations to relocate or expand operations in the area. The assumption is that these publicly subsidized investments will spur growth and job creation. But many in the community, including some councilmembers, would like to have more details before incentives are voted on and passed.

“We always hear about the hundreds of jobs that tax incentives create, and now we want to know if those are good jobs,” said Council member Anthony Davis. “With Nashville booming, we choose to recruit good paying employers and never have to compromise on worker safety.”

Supporters are calling this the “Do Better Bill,” and if passed, would require companies seeking tax breaks to make detailed commitments to Metro Council before the deals are voted on for final approval. This report would include the type and number of jobs created during and after construction, the estimated wages, and whether the companies will use registered apprenticeship programs. Companies will also be asked to disclose any safety or wage violations during the past 10 years.

“After this year’s surge of construction site deaths and Nashville workers walking off jobs due to wage theft, this measure will show companies that we want to prioritize good, safe jobs to win coveted tax breaks, and expect commitments to be honored,” said Davis.

“When people in the community read about these huge tax deals in the newspaper or on Facebook, they wonder if it will really benefit their family or their neighbors,” said Stand Up Nashville Co-chair Odessa Kelly. “There are still many people in Nashville struggling, and this bill says to them: ‘you matter!’”