Davidson County court blocks July referendum to amend Nashville’s charter

On June 22, Davidson County Chancellor Russell Perkins ruled that a petition for six charter amendments backed by 4 Good Government was invalid and blocked the amendments from appearing on the July 27 ballot. Perkins ruled that the petition included two proposed election dates, but local law requires that petitioners specify a single election date. Perkins also ruled that the amendment to revert a property tax increase would unconstitutionally transfer the power to enact property taxes from the local government to voters. Jim Roberts, leader of 4 Good Government, said that the Davidson County Elections Commission may appeal the court’s decision.

Had the petition been ruled valid, voters would have voted on six amendments to the city charter on July 27. One would have reverted the city’s property tax rates to what they were before a 34% increase in 2020 and would have required voter approval of any future increase of more than 3%. The other five amendments would have:

  1. reduced the number of signatures required to recall an elected official and prevented recalled officials from running for their previous office;
  2. ended lifetime benefits for elected officials;
  3. banned legislative alteration of voter-initiated charter amendments;
  4. required the city council to seek citizen approval before transferring high-value park or greenway real estate to private owners; and
  5. brought sports stadiums and facilities under the control of the city if their respective teams left Nashville or didn’t play at home for two years.

This is not the first time that 4 Good Government has tried to repeal last year’s tax increase. The group collected the required number of signatures for a similar petition in August 2020, but it was struck down in court on November 3, 2020.

4 Good Government started their petition targeting a 2021 election date in February and collected the required 12,142 signatures in April. The Davidson County Election Commission verified the petition in May.

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