Conservative think tank Beacon Center of Tennessee has placed the 30 largest Volunteer State cities on notice: On Independence Day 2020, it will call them out on how free their citizens are – or are not.
The Beacon Center of Tennessee announced Tuesday it will release a City Freedom Index on Independence Day 2020.
As many of our state and local elected officials know, thousands of people across the United States move to Tennessee each year. While their reasons may vary, many choose to live here due to state-level policies such as: Right to Work, a lack of a state income tax, low taxes per capita, and low levels of debt. These policies are well known and their benefits well documented. While certainly the state you live in has a large impact on your life, so does the city you live in. However, we have found there are few resources on the best places to live within Tennessee due to local level polices.
In an emailed press release, Mark Cunningham, vice president of communications and outreach, said the center will rank the 30 cities according to an overall freedom score.
Because this is a brand new report, Beacon is giving cities a full year notice before the index is released so that they have the opportunity to improve or change their policies to secure a better ranking. Beacon recently sent the criteria to the mayor and council members/alderman of each city included in the rankings.
The categories included in the rankings are:
Individual Liberty- 25%
- Code Transparency
- Penalties for Violating Ordinances
- Constitutional Freedoms (to include items such as fireworks, guns, alcohol, and free speech codes)
Private Property- 25%
- Permitting Fees
- Eminent Domain
- Use of Property (To include items such as short-term rentals, animal restrictions, home-based businesses, and yard restrictions)
Free Enterprise- 25%
- Business Licensing Fees
- Size of Government (government spending as a percentage of economic output)
- Corporate Welfare (total amount of incentives per capita and transparency)
Tax Burden- 25%
- Sales Taxes
- Property Taxes
Beacon CEO Justin Owen noted, “As Tennessee’s premiere statewide think tank, it is important that we focus on local communities in Tennessee. While the state as a whole ranks pretty well in terms of freedom, some cities in Tennessee have not done such a good job. This report is important so that we can congratulate the cities that are representing taxpayers well and motivate the cities that have less freedom to change their ways.”
Owen continued, “This freedom index will be the first of its kind, ranking cities on everything from property taxes to constitutional freedoms. It will let Tennesseans see exactly where their local government is doing good work and where improvement is needed.”
The Beacon Center of Tennessee says it empowers Tennesseans to reclaim control of their lives, so that they can freely pursue their version of the American Dream. The Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing concerned citizens and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.