It’s been 50 years, almost to the day, that Davidson County voters decided one government is better than two. Thursday the living mayors of Metro Nashville will kick off a series of events celebrating a half-century of consolidation.
Five mayors sharing the stage date back to the Fulton Administration, followed by Bill Boner, Phil Bredesen, Bill Purcell and Karl Dean, who says he still fields calls from cities interested in following Nashville’s lead in combining the city and county functions.
“It’s not easy. I mean, it is a hard thing to do. I would argue that the rewards are enormous and that we owe a deep sense of gratitude to the folks who got this done because it really has kept Nashville a very dynamic city.”
According to the National League of Cities, there have been just 14 true city-county consolidations in the U.S. And efforts consistently fail, such as one in Memphis in 2010 and just this year in Maury County.
Dean says the greatest benefit in Nashville has been eliminating the duplication of efforts between two governments. Also, he says the tax base has been more resilient since it includes urban, suburban and even some rural areas. He says right now, some urban neighborhoods have seen the most growth in property values after years of suburban strength.
There’s live music and a free lunch at the Metro Courthouse Thursday at noon following a press conference.