Nashville City Councilman Bob Mendes tried unsuccessfully for two years to get his booming city to raise property taxes to address its growing municipal needs.

Then came COVID-19. The City Council last month approved a 34% increase.What changed?

“We’re broke,” said Mendes, who identifies as a Democrat though the council is nonpartisan.

Cities such as Nashville, Tennessee, and states from New York to California have raised taxes or are considering it amid a pandemic that has crushed the economy and thrown state and city budgets deep into the red.

Unlike the federal government, 49 states (Vermont is the exception) and many cities must balance their budgets. And there’s only so much they can cut, particularly when the double punch of coronavirus and civil unrest has stretched public services.

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