Mayor David Briley came to the Nashville LGBT Chamber Transit Forum at Play Dance Bar on Wednesday evening. He was nice enough to give our own Julie Chase a quick interview before going on stage to address the forum.
Why are you here tonight?
“We’re out across the city meeting with every group we possibly can to convince them that the Transit initiative on May 1st is something they need to vote for. So, we’re getting out and explaining the plan itself and why it’s important to Nashville and its future success The sense is that we’re gonna grow, right? So how are we going to grow? Is it going to be where we get a high quality of life and people can move around…or are we going to get worse and worse gridlock every single day. So I’m convinced and I believe that the May 1st ballot initiative is something everyone ought to vote in favour of so we can be a productive, positive and great place to live in the future.”
Have you talked to leaders in the surrounding counties about this transit plan and if so what has been their reactions?
“I’ve been talking to them since early last year about Nashville going first to make an investment in mass transit for Davidson County. We’re encouraging all the surrounding counties to join us. What we’re planning to build here is something they can link up to once they make the financial commitment themselves.”
You are the grandson of Metro Nashville’s first mayor (Mayor Beverly Briley). Did your grandfather ever share with you ideas about mass transit for Nashville?
“Well, during that era it was much more focused upon the automobile. So, we were really during the 1960’s and 70’s building out the infrastructure for automobiles to get in and out of town. He lobbied hard to get the interstates to come through Nashville because he felt that it was going to be good for economic development back in that era. That turned out to be the case. We grew pretty quickly as a result of the (Metro Nashville government) consolidation and becoming a transit hub. Now it’s up to us to take the next step and invest in mass transit so that as we become bigger and more congested, we still got ways for people to move around town.”
In a nutshell…how are we going to pay for this?
“The primary revenue source is the sales tax. The sales tax is almost fifty percent paid in Davidson County by people who are not residents here. So the sales tax is a perfect way, maybe, to raise money. It’s pretty good under these circumstances because other people from outside the county are actually contributing towards the cost of the (transit) system.”
May I ask specifically how they are contributing?
“If you visit Nashville and you buy something in a store or a restaurant…you are paying a sales tax. Part of that sales tax will go towards the cost of building and operating the transit system.”
If this envisioned transit system were to expand outside of Davidson County would you expect that other sources of revenue would have to contribute in order to operate this system?
“We believe that the revenue sources we have identified will be sufficient for operating and building the system within Davidson County. Outside Davidson County, Rutherford (County) for example, is gonna have to find their own revenue source to connect up with us. Same for Summer, etc. We’re not going to be responsible for the construction, maintenance or operation of their systems, but they will have to contribute to the overall cost.”
One more question. Do you plan to join us for Nashville Pride this June?
“I will be there. I intend to be there…”
You can catch the video of the interview below: