Introducing the City Freedom Index

July 2, 2019 12:05PM

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 the City Freedom Index, we will evaluate Tennessee’s 30 most populous cities in the following categories:

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%

– Debt
– Sales Taxes
– Property Taxes

Our hope and belief is that the City Freedom Index will serve as a resource not just for citizens within the state and those looking to move here, but also for local elected officials to tout what their city is doing well, and recognize opportunities for positive reform.

The final rankings based on the above categories will be released on July 4, 2020, giving every city time to pass reforms or make changes to improve its score. In order to ensure the index’s accuracy, we will consider any changes to a city’s codes and permits passed by March 31, 2020. Please note that the index will rate how free each city is relative to each other, rather than whether a city is “free” or “not free.”

Elected officials in the cities that will be considered have been notified of this already. Should any officials or citizens have any questions about the criteria, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.