Gallatin has been ranked as one of the top 10 “freest” cities in the state, according to a new report from the Beacon Center of Tennessee.
The Nashville-based nonprofit think tank released its first City Freedom Index last week, which ranked Gallatin seventh overall out of the 30 most populated cities in the state.
The report gave Gallatin favorable marks for having lower than average building permit fees and property taxes, but dinged the city for tougher restrictions on alcohol businesses and food trucks as well as not having an exemption for self-defense in its gun regulations.
“Gallatin has a lot to be proud of and a lot to build off of particularly in terms of its strong protections of private property and also being a city that is in strong fiscal health,” Beacon Center Director of Policy and Research and author of the report Ron Shultis said about the city’s ranking. “There is a way to make the city a little bit more competitive… by making it a little bit easier for (some) types of businesses to operate.”
Researchers spent nearly a year collecting data from cities across the state that had a population of more than 20,000 residents. Each one was then ranked on 25 metrics across four categories – free enterprise, private property, induvial liberty and cost of government.
La Vergne came in first place on the list followed by Brentwood, Hendersonville, Morristown and Clarksville in the top five. In neighboring Wilson County, Mt. Juliet came in 8th place while Lebanon came in 10th.
“There are a lot of things that people know at a national level about different states, but there really was no resource talking about the differences at the local level between cities across Tennessee,” Shultis said about the origin the report. “We’re not saying that a certain city is free or unfree, but how do they compare (to others) in the state?”
Tennessee’s largest cities ranked near the bottom of the list. Nashville came in last place while Memphis ranked 25th, Knoxville placed 28th and Chattanooga ranked 23rd.
According to Shultis, the Beacon Center hopes the report will lead to positive changes in cities across the state.
“Everybody benefits when we are a little freer,” Shultis added. “Our hope is that people can use this as a resource to spur change for more freedom at the local level in their own community.”
The full City Freedom Index report can be found online at the Beacon Center of Tennessee’s website at www.beacontn.org.