Friday, June 22, 2018

Technology, not more traffic lanes is answer to traffic woes says Bill Lee and Randy Boyd

by Rod Williams - Diane Black's proposed solution for Nashville area traffic woes is to double-stack the three interstates in Nashville and complete he Interstate 840 north loop. Her three opponents in the race for governor take a different approach. Bill Lee and Randy Boyd have said technology is the answer and Beth Harwell has said solving Nashville's traffic problem is basically a local issue.

As reported in The Tennessean, Bill Lee says, "I’m a businessman. I run a corporation. We look to technology to solve some of the greatest challenges in our society, and five years ago we never would have imagined you would push an app on your phone and get in the car with a perfect stranger and drive away, but technology changes the future."

Lee said the state should focus on smart traffic lights, private-sector ride-share programs and technology to further utilize the state's roadways, such as rarely enforced HOV lanes.

Randy Boyd said, "When we look at the solution, it needs to be a regional solution, but also I think the thing we are not looking at enough is technology. There’s some new technology investments that I believe are gonna help relieve a lot of the problems that we have. It’s not just about spending our way out."

I agree more with Lee and Boyd than I do Diane Black on this issue, with the exception of building the northern part of the I-840 loop. Building the I-840 loop would divert a certain amount of traffic from the north that is headed either west or east at Nashville. I do not know if that is a significant amount of traffic or not, but if traffic studies show it is, then that northern loop should be build. I am not sold on the idea of double decking the interstates. I do not think it necessary and it is quality of life issue.  Wider interstates or double decked interstates create a more stressful environment and are ugly.

I am convinced that para-transit, express bus service and technology can solve our traffic problems. We do not need rail or interstate expansion except in certain locations to correct bottlenecks. For more on my thoughts on traffic see this link. For the Tennessean's story on the position of candidates for governor on this issue of transportation, follow this link.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

(update #1) What happended at the Council meeting of 6/19/18: No tax hike budget passes, most other important bills deferred.



If you are actually going to watch the whole meeting, you better get a drink and a snack and be prepared to take a bathroom break.  At six and half hours long, this is one of the longest meeting I ever remember. I watched part of it in real time as it occurred and then watched the video. I skipped ahead in the parts where I knew nothing important was happening and watched parts of it in double speed. Most of the meeting is devoted to the budget. Below is a summary of the meeting

To access the agenda, the Council staff agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link and this link.

Following the prayer and pledge is a ceremonial presentation honoring Franklin Road Academy's wrestling program coach. The Council gets down to business at timestamp 16 in the video. The first item is election of a person to the Industrial Development Board.  There are two candidates and a nominating speech for each and then the council votes, electing Quin E. Segall. I don't know anything about either candidate and had no preference. 

Following that election the Council votes to confirm mayoral appointments to boards and commissions. There is no discussion or surprises. This is concluded at timestamp 32. The next item is public hearings  on three resolutions all asking for an exemption from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit. No one speaks on any of them and they pass.

Resolutions of interest

Resolution RS2018-1253  extends the duration of the water and sewer extendable commercial paper program. I do not know if this is prudent or not but it sounds suspect. It is deferred one meeting.

Resolution RS2018-1262  appropriates $3.5 milliion from the undesignated fund balances of the MNPS General Purpose Fund to Metro Schools. This was necessary f
to finish the current budget year, which ends on June 30. It is unusual. It means the School system spend more money than was appropriated. Director of Schools Shawn Joseph explained this was due to unexpected administrative expenses. To read The Tennessean's coverage of this issue, follow this link. This resolution passes on a voice vote.

Resolution RS2018-1263 is a resolution requesting the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and enact legislation to allow for online publication, instead of newspaper publication, when public notices are required. Now, these public notices are published in publications that no one reads, that is just full of notices. The committee voted against it 8 to zero and the sponsor deferred it indefinitely. I do not know the argument against it as I did not watch the committee meeting but on its face this seemed like a good idea. 
All bills on first reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote without discussion as is the norm. 

Bills on Second Reading.
Bill BL2018-1189  would require Metro to make an even greater effort to make sure some Metro business goes to minority contractors when Metro has projects to put for bid. The staff analysis says Metro legal has expressed concern that the bill may contain unconstitutional race and gender based preferences and is inconsistent with the current framework of the Procurement Non-Discrimination Program. It is deferred one meeting.

Bill BL2018-1200 would require that if a  hotels or roominghouses accept cash payment, they must also accept at least one other form of payment such as check or credit cards. I seldom carry cash and would find it inconvenient if I tried to do business with an entity that was cash-only, but why not let the market work this out.  Why must the government try to micromanage every aspect of commerce and our lives? It is deferred one meeting.

Bill BL2018-1201  would tighten animal control regulations. Now, you are not supposed to leave your pooch out if the heat index will be above 95. This lowers it to 85. Animal Control says to enforce this will take more people, space, and equipment and cost $472,617. This is deferred one meeting.

Bill BL2018-1202 are proposed new rules for scooter prompted by the arrival of

Bird Scooter here in Nashville. It would require new fees including a fee of $40 per scooter. This is deferred one meeting.

Bill BL2018-1203  also deals with scooters, in-line skates, and roller skates by removing the requirement for wrist guards, elbow pads, and kneepads and updating audio device references.. This is deferred one meeting.

Bill BL2018-1207 would direct the Purchasing Agent to terminate Contract Purchase Agreement 338266, a project management services agreement between Commonwealth Development Group, Inc. and the Metropolitan Government. Commonwealth Development is the company that did work on the MLS stadium without a contract to do that work and without money appropriated to do that work. The work was authorized by Metro Chief Operating Officer Rich Riebeling. Commonwealth was paid out of a Bridgestone Arena fund. The Metro Sports Authority, which operates the arena, was unaware of the spending.  This  incident let to a deeper look the work of Commonwealth and some in the Council became dissatisfied.  The owner of Commonwealth and Rich Riebelng are close friends and questions were raised about that cozy relationship and how Commonwealth got Metro business and how much they are paid and the provision of free office space to the company. There is less than a year left on the current contract and this bill was withdrawn. Steve Glover says the trust factor has been eroded.
Bills on Third Reading:
Substitute BL2018-1139 (as amended)   approves the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan. This is deferred two meetings.
The Operating Budget, Bill BL2018-1184 and related items. 
By this time anyone who cares about local government knows a no tax increase budget was passed. Still, watching the deliberations is informative. The lengthy deliberations on the operating budget starts at timestamp 1:22:17.  Speaker pro temp lays out the process and possible outcomes at the start of the discussion. I am not going to try to summarize all of the arguments and motions related to this discussion but give a broad description of what happens.

There were three possible budgets that could have passed; the mayor's budget, the Vercher substitute or the Mendes substitute. The mayor's budget did not raise taxes and did not fund the promised employee cost of living pay raise or give the schools their budget request. The Vercher substitute did not hike taxes but shifted money, giving $2 million more to schools. The Mendes substitute increased the tax rate 50 cents or 16%, would have generated $150 million, fully funded the COLA for metro employees and fully funded the schools request.

One should realized the budget process to know the limitations of what the Council could do.  We have a strong mayor form of local government. The deck is stacked against the Council. When it comes to the budget, if the Counciil fails to pass a budget the mayor's budget becomes law without council action. It takes 21 votes to pass a budget. If the mayor should veto the budget presented by the Council, then it takes 27 votes to override a veto. So, the Mendes budget had an uphill clime to be passed. Should the Mendes budget have passed, then been vetoed by the mayor, which we can assume he would do, and then the Council failed to override, then the mayor budget would have been the official budget.  There would not have been an opportunity to go back and pass the Vercher budget. 

For those who won't to get in the tall weeds of the budget, see Citizens' Guide to the Metro Budget. If watching this lengthy budget debate does not satisfy your desire to understand the budget issues, you may want to watch the Budget and Finance Committee deliberatiions on the budget which you can watch at this link

Vercher is called on first. As chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee she is the sponsor of the mayors's budget. As chairman, she oversaw the work of the committee that created the substitute and the substitute that was the result of committee work becomes her bill and she moves to substitute the mayor's budget. Then various amendments are voted upon. As amended her substitute is adopted, then Mendes is recognized and he introduces his substitute.  If his bill would have passed, then that would have been the Council's substitute that would have been sent to the mayor. He did not prevail so the Vercher substitute was then passed by the Council and became the official budget that is sent to the mayor. Below are some highlights in the discussion worth watching:

 This is a draft of a work in progress check back. Resume at timestamp 1:25




Bill BL2018-1185  is the Metro tax levy,

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NO TAX INCREASE! Tax hike budget fails in a very close vote.

by Rod Williams, June 20, 1918 - After a lengthy discussion in which numerous Council members spoke for or against the Mendes amendment to the Vercher sponsored substitute budget, the Mendes amendment failed. That amendment would have hiked the tax rate by 5O cents or 16%. It would have generated $150 million which would have funded a cost-of-living pay increase for Metro employees and it would have fully funded the school board's funding request. The vote was taken at 12:33 AM. The vote was 19 to 19. President por tem Sheri Weiner who only votes in the event of a tie voted "no," killing the Mendes tax hike budget proposal making the final vote 19 in favor and 20 opposed


Back on the Vercher no tax hike substitute bill, the Council voted in favor 34 to 4.


For more details, and a list of how council members voted, see a future blog post.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Here's how much Nashville tax revenue goes to developers instead of schools




The Tennessean, July 19, 2018 - The city diverted $9.3 million of property taxes from schools to pay off redevelopment loans — for downtown hotels, luxury condos and other projects. Such diversions have occurred for decades, but in the past two years they've grown quickly. This fiscal year's amount was about $1 million more than expected. (link)

Rod Williams comments: To be fair, some of the development would probably not have occurred  without incentives but one cannot say how much. Still, way to much money is going to developers rather than the city's needs.

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Budget and Finance Committee recommends tax hike budget by 7 to 6 vote. However ...

In a surprise move the Budget and Finance Committee of the Metro Council voted to recommend a tax hike budget. The budget that was expected to be the Council budget that had been developed earlier by the committee shifted some funding but did not raise taxes. That no tax hike budget was sponsored by the Committee chairman Tanaka Vercher.   

The tax hike budget was sponsored by At-large Councilman Bob Mendes and barely won approval by the Committee by a vote of 7 to 6. Under the Mendes budget the tax rate for most property owners would increase by 50 cents which amounts to a 16% property tax hike. That tax hike would generate $150 million which would fund a cost-of-living pay increase for Metro employees and it would fully fund the school board's funding request.

Confusingly, the Council also recommended the no tax hike Vercher budget by a recommendation of 9 to 3.  So, the Committee is recommending both budgets which means the Committee is not making a clear recommendation. With no clear recommendation from the committee, we probably will see a floor fight on Tuesday night. For more details, see The Tennessean's coverage of this development at this link.


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Monday, June 18, 2018

Metro's financial woes just got $23 milliion worse.

by Rod Williams - By the way city officials calculate the budget, there is a budget shortage of $34 million. That is to say the city will realize $34 million less in revenue than the city initially thought they would have. $26 million of that is due to successful challenges, mostly by large commercial interest, to the city's recent property appraisals. Another $8 million is due to the city getting less funding from the State for schools due to declining school enrollment.

Despite the city's population growth, there are fewer children being enrolled in Metro Schools. either because there is demographic shift and there are fewer school age children or because more parents are sending their kids to private schools or homeschooling.  It is probably some of both. One would think with fewer children to educate that would be a budget plus. One would think with fewer students to educate, that would save the city money.  The State does not cover the full cost of educating children so it is hard to understand why having fewer students is a hardship  rather than a benefit. If you think like that then you are thinking like a business man or someone who manages a household budget.  That is not the way bureaucrats or the school board or Mayor Bailey thinks about it.

In any event, these two factors constitute a $34 million shortage. In developing the budget, the
anticipated revenues and anticipated expenses have to match.  Most of the revenue comes from property tax and sales tax but there are also many other fees that contribute to the revenue side. Everything from parking tickets to fees for rezoning property and city auto stickers and dozens of other fees contribute to the city's revenue.  In the Mayor's $2.23 billion budget $23 million in revenue is anticipated to come from the sale of three city properties that have been declared surplus. This is one-time money and it is not wise to depend on one-time money for continuing expenses, but that is what the city is doing. This same revenue is also counted in the Council's substitute budget proposed by the Budget and Finance committee.

It is by no means a certainty that these property sales will take place. The three properties are in Edgehill, Green Hills and Charlotte Avenue near Sylvan Park. There are any number of things that could stop these sales. While I do not know the specifics of these three parcels, rezoning could be an obstacle. Often for a prime piece of property to get top dollar it must be rezoned. Often the completion of the sale is contingent upon the rezoning taking place. Rezoning is never a certainty.

There is already serious opposition to the sale of the Edgehill property. This property is a park that adjoins the Edgehill Apartments public housing project. It is the former site of the home of African-American folk artist William Edmondson. He was the son of slaves who became a self-taught artist and was the first African-American artist to be given his own show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. His art has been featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Edgehill community has a long history of activism. The Rev. Bill Barnes who was an organizing force in the community pastured the Edgehill Methodist Church from 1966 until his retirement in 1996. He was liberal advocate for affordable housing and other issues affecting the Edgehill community.  The Edgehill community is accustomed to fighting city hall. A few years ago when the city entered into an agreement with Belmont University to share Rose Park with Belmont University in exchange for Belmont's investment in the park, the community unsuccessfully fought the deal. It did happen but it took a while and there were lots of protest and a lawsuit before Belmont won that battle. 

In the last year, the Edgehill community became a leading voice opposing the redevelopment of property that adjoins Fort Negley that was the former home of the Nashville Sounds' Greer Stadium. Fort Negley is near the Edgehill Community. Fort Negley was build by freed slaves forced into labor by the occupying Union army.  Many Blacks endured terrible hardship building the fort and many died. Many in the Black community found it offensive that this site of significance to African-Americans was to be redeveloped rather than incorporated into the Fort Negley Park. When Mayor Briley became mayor, the plan to redevelop the Greer stadium site was abandoned.

The point of the above discussion of the Edgehill community is to say that if the community wants to keep the city from selling off the  Edgehill Memorial Gardens Park, the community will fight. They will not just roll over and play dead. The community has already had at least one community meeting to organize for the purpose of saving the park (link). While I think Nashville does too many things, I like our park system. As Nashville grows, we need more green space not less.

In addition to the political activist of Edgehill, I am sure there are many people like me who will side with those who think selling off park property to balance the budget is not a good idea. I signed petitions and advocated saving Fort Negley and reincorporating the Greer site back into Fort Negley Park and I feel sure I will support saving Edgehill Memorial Gardens. Councilman Colby Sledge who represents the Edgehill area has already come out in opposition to selling off the park.

In stead of making the budget balance by counting one-time money from the sale of pubic lands when that sale looks very doubtful, the city should cut the budget. There is plenty of waste, corruption, and unnecessary spending to cut to make it balance. Also, using one-time money to balance the budget just sets us up for a certain tax increase next year. It is time to get serious about cutting expenses.

For additional source material for this story see the following links: here, here, here, here.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

(Pt.2) What's on the Council agenda for 6-17: More regulations on dogs, hotels, scooters and metro hiring; the Donelson Transit-oriented Redevelopment Plan

By Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.  Below is a summary of what is on the agenda. The most important item is the annual operating budget and I have discussed that in a separate post at this link

Elections and Confirmation

There is an election to fill one vacancy on the Industrial Development Board. This Board controls a lot of money and hands out corporate welfare by giving sweetheart deals to favored companies. Another way of saying it is they incentivize companies to locate in Nashville by giving them preferential treatment. It develops property then leases it to businesses. Since the property remains the property of Metro Government and thus exempt from property taxes, companies awarded these deals do not have to pay property taxes but instead pay "payment in lieu of taxes" or PILOT, which is often much less than they would pay in taxes. Also, the IDB may do the same for developers of affordable housing. While the public knows little about how the board operates and doesn't care who sits on the board, some business interest lobby hard to see their favorite candidate sit on the board. The two candidates are Tequila Johnson and Quin E. Segall. I have no knowledge of either.

There are 13 mayoral appointments to Boards and Commission before the Council for confirmation. Usually, these are confirmed without controversy, discussion or dissension.  
There are three resolutions on Public Hearing all asking for an exemption from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit.

Resolutions: There are 18 of them. Most are routine things like accepting grants and settling lawsuits out of court. Here are the ones of interest:
Resolution RS2018-1253  extends the extends the duration of the water and sewer extendable commercial paper program. I do not know if this is prudent or not and I have not watched the Budget and Finance Committee meeting where this may have been discussed, but it does raise a red flag. It appears to me that instead of paying debts when they become due we get extensions. In a household this would be a sign of a household in financial difficulty. Any insight as to the prudence of this action from a knowledgeable person would be welcome.

Resolution RS2018-1262  appropriates $3,500,000 from the undesignated fund balances of the MNPS General Purpose Fund to Metro Schools. 

Resolution RS2018-1263 is a resolution requesting the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and enact legislation to allow for online publication, instead of newspaper publication, when public notices are required. This makes sense to me. Now, these public notices are published in publications that no one reads, that is just full of notices. 
Bills on Introduction and First Reading: There are 10 bills on first reading. Bills on First Reading are normally considered as a group and are seldom discussed. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. Unless a bill is ridiculously atrocious it should be passed on first reading. Bills are not assigned to committee or analyzed by council staff until after they have passed first reading. I have not carefully reviewed the bills on first reading, but will before second reading. There is one bill on First Reading that is very significant. Bill BL2018-1205  would save the fairgrounds by prohibiting the giveaway of the tea acres that is slated to be given to the developers of the planned soccer stadium. This is a good bill. I don't think anyone would try to kill it on first reading but they may.

Bills on Second Reading:  There are 27 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of importance.
Bill BL2018-1189  would require Metro to make an even greater effort to make sure some Metro business goes to minority contractors when Metro has projects to put for bid. The staff analysis says Metro legal has expressed concern that the bill may contain unconstitutional race and gender based preferences and is inconsistent with the current framework of the Procurement Non-Discrimination Program.

Bill BL2018-1200 would require that if a  hotels or roominghouses accept cash payment, they must also accept at least one other form of payment such as check or credit cards. I seldom carry cash and would find it inconvenient if I tried to do business with an entity that was cash-only, but why not let the market work this out.  Why must the government try to micromanage every aspect of commerce and our lives?

Bill BL2018-1201  would tighten animal control regulations. Now, you are not supposed to leave your pooch out if the heat index will be above 95. This lowers it to 85. Why? Lots of people work outside with a heat index of 95. At one time dogs lived in unairconditioned houses with their masters. We did not always have air conditioning and animals survived. Animal Control says to enforce this will take more people, space, and equipment and cost $472,617. That is the way government grows. An extra $472,617 hear and an extra $472,617 there and pretty soon you are talking about real money and have to raise taxes. 


Bill BL2018-1202 are proposed new rules for scooter prompted by the arrival of
Bird Scooter here in Nashville. It would require new fees including a fee of $40 per scooter. If the Bird people say they can live with this, I would support it, but I think it is ridiculous that Metro tries to hinder or stop every new economic innovation. Bird Scooters are undocked and an app on you phone can find the closest one, you can activate it by use of your phone app, ride it to your destination and then leave it. This could contribute to Nashville's mobility and be another transit option, yet Metro is fighting this innovative service. 
Bills on Third Reading: There are  seven. One is the Metro annual operating budget which I have reported on in another post. Here are the other ones of interest.
Substitute BL2018-1139 (as amended)   approves the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan. There is a new authority given to cities to plan, facilitate and guide develop around transit stops to encourage a certain kind of development around those stops and to give cities the authority to issue Tax Increment Financing bonds for improvements in the designated area. This would be the first time this authority has been used. This designation would apply to the Donelson stop on The Nashville Star line. This bill does a lot. There is a lot of detail in the staff analysis for those who want to know more. I have no problem with this concept but think it might go too far in trying to micro manage development.  Previous I had expressed a concern is that this might confer the power of eminent domain to MDHA for use in this area.  I have since spoken to the sponsor and have been assured this is not the case. With that assurance, while I still have reservations about the reach of this bill, on balance I think it is a beneficial bill. 
To read 20-page MDHA report on the plan, follow this link
Here is a link to The Nashville Business Journal report on this issue: What a development in Donelson means for Nashville's $5.4 billion mass-transit overhaul 
The Tennessean coverage: Donelson debates Nashville's first planned transit-oriented district.

Bill BL2018-1185  is the Metro tax levy, since the proposed Metro budget does not call for a tax increase, the tax levy would not change unless Councilman Mendes' bill passes which calls for a tax increase.
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site and you can watch it live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.




 





 



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(Part 1) What's on the Council agenda for July 19th: Passing the annual operating budget

By Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a copy of the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.  There are several important items on the agenda but by far the most important is the operating budget.

The Operating Budget, Bill BL2018-1184

This bill is on third and final reading.  Should the process of passing a budget get bogged down for some reason and not pass tonight, the Council would have to hold a special session between now and the end of the month.  If the Council does not pass a budget, the mayor's budget becomes law without council action.

The mayor's budget is what is initially before the Council. This is a $2.23 billion dollar budget. The current Fiscal Year 2018 budget is for  $2.21 billion. The mayor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019 represents an overall increase of $20.4 million. This year's budget does not call for a tax increase. The budget is said to be "short" $34 million due to $26 million less being generated in property tax revenues than anticipated, primarily due to large companies successfully challenging  their Metro tax appraisal, and $8 million less being received from the State to support Metro schools, as a result of declining enrollment.  For a more detailed explanation of what is in the budget see the staff analysis. To become an expert on the Metro budget, see Citizens' Guide to the Metro Budget.


Two areas most impacted by what s perceived to be a budget shortage is Metro Schools and a promised Metro employee Cost of Living pay increase.  The schools asked for $44.7 million additional in this years budget and the mayors budget only gives them $5 million additional. 

An area of concern to me is that the budget under funds the various reserve funds. This is not prudent money management and this action along any other bad economic news could impact Nashville's bond rating.

The process of approving the budget is that the mayor first holds budget "discussions" with department heads and their top staff who make a pitch for the funding they want.  The mayor and his staff estimate the city's anticipated revenue and the mayor's office then develops a budget which is presented to the Metro Council.  

The Budget and Finance Committee then holds earnings on the budget where each department head and their top assistants appear before the Committee and make the case for their budget.  If they feel the major cut their budget request too much, they appeal to the Council to increase their funding.  The Budget and Finance Committee then tweaks the mayors budget and shifts some money around and this product is then presented to the Council as the "substitute" budget. 

The substitute budget does not call for a tax increase either. The substitute budget tweaks the mayor's budget by cutting a little hear and there that total $2 million and gives that money to Metro Schools. Out of a $2.23 billion budget that is not much. Hardest hit in the substitute is the city's Music and Entertainment Economic Development initiative which lost $1 million. $300,000 was taken from the mayor's office budget smaller amounts from other departments. For The Tennessean's report on this story, follow this link

The substitute  maintains the cities commitment to the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing but moves to fund it contingent upon revenue generated from the sale of two pieces of surplus properties. One of those surplus pieces of property is a park in the Edgehill area and this has already generated stiff opposition.

Once the motion to substitute is approved the budget is then often called "the Council's budget" as opposed to "the mayor's budget."  Once the motion to substitute is accepted then that is the bill before the Council which may be debated. Probably their will be no debate on the motion to substitute. Once the substitute motion is passed Councilman Bob Mendes is going to move to amend the substitute with a substitute which calls for a .50 cent tax hike. Not that it matters a lot but the parliamentary procedure could be that Mendes opposes the Budget and Finance Committee substitute and argues for his own proposal at that point. 

The Mendes fifty cent tax hike would generate about $150 million in new taxes. This would fund the schools request and the COLA pay increases. I adamantly oppose increasing taxes and instead think we should cut waste, corruption, inefficiency, corporate welfare and unnecessary spending. Expect some lively debate. Mendes has four cosponsors for his bill and the influential progressive organization NOAH has endorsed his plan and The Tennessean has endorsed a tax increase.

Despite the support for a tax increase from some council members and powerful allies, I suspect the Mendes amendment will fail. I have no inside knowledge but anticipate the Mendes proposal to get about ten votes.  After the failure of the Mendes amendment, Council will then be back to considering an up or down vote on the substitute budget.  

This is something that most citizens and I suspect even some members of the Council do not understand. A "no" vote on the Council substitute has the effect of being a "yes" vote for the mayor's budget due to that is the way the Charter designs it. If the Council substitute fails then the mayor;s budget is the budget. 



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