Monday, June 4, 2012

Update: The June 5th Council meeting? The Budget.

This will be one of the most important Council meetings in a very, very long time. The Mayor's budget (ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-154) will be on second reading and there will be a public hearing. Usually Council Meeting are very, very boring and only a political junkie like me would watch them. This should be entertaining and heated. If you only watch one council meeting a year, watch this one. If you want to stop a tax increase, attend!

What I expect to happen is that the Council will hold the hearing on the budget and then defer it. Expect to hear teachers, policemen, Metro employees, art lovers, park lovers, library lovers and people who think of themselves as friends of education, and other "good government" types and liberals to argue that we need a tax increase to move this city forward.

Expect homeowners and tax payers and conservatives and tea party types to argue that a tax increase will cause people and businesses to move out of the county or chose not to move here in the first place. They will argue we cannot afford a tax increase.

If I get a chance to speak I will argue against a tax increase. In property taxes, it cost a homeowner almost twice as much to live within Davidson County as it does in an adjoining county. The adjoining counties, generally have less crime and better schools and one can still enjoy the benefits provided by the city of Nashville. One can drive to Nashville to enjoy the entertainment and fine restaurants and all else, yet avoid the taxes. I think a tax increase will drive out the middle class. I oppose it.

If you have an opinion, one way or the other about whether or not we should raise taxes, this is your chance to be heard. Show up! Put in your two cents worth. I do not know how the vice mayor will handle it, if hundreds of people want to speak. Will she ban repetitive testimony?  Will she impose a time limit?  Will she arbitrarily cut off the public hearing after a certain amount of time? I don't know.

You can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. From the agenda you can link to the analysis. 

Here is what to look for other than the budget:

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-159: This ordinance adopts the capital improvements budget for 2012-2013 through 2017-2018.The capital improvements budget is not really a budget but a planning document and does not in itself appropriate any money. All capital projects must be provided for in this document before a capital improvement can be approved by the council, except in the case of a public emergency. This document ranks projects, so one can still be against a tax hike and advocate that your favorite public improvement be ranked high. There will be a public hearing on the capital improvements budget.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-153: If you have noticed that in certain parts of town, that two fine looking single family homes are connected by a portion of a structure that looks like it could be no more than a narrow hall, the reason is a codes requirement that says duplexes in these districts must be attached. This ordinance amends the Metro zoning code to delete the requirement that two-family dwellings in the historic overlays be physically connected.  The connection requirement would remain for properties located outside of a historic zoning overlay. This ordinance has been approved by the planning commission. This is a common sense ordinance that ought to pass. This will be on public hearing. I do not expect opposition.

RESOLUTION NOS. RS2012-273 THROUGH RS2012-275 concern raises for metro employees. These will be deferred. If the Mayor's budget does not pass, there would not be money to fund these so the decision on the budget needs to be made before passing a raise for Metro employees.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-276 authorizes GSD general obligation bonds to provide funding for various projects contained in the mayor’s 2012-2013 capital spending plan. Like the above resolution, this one will be deferred until after the council decides what to do with the budget.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-155 on third reading adopts the property tax levy for fiscal year 2012-2013. The Metropolitan Charter provides that the council’s next order of business upon adopting the annual operating budget must be to adopt a tax levy that fully funds the operating budget, so this will be deferred.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-156 amends the Metro code to shift the collection authority for certain taxes from the county clerk to the department of finance. The reason for this is that John Arriola has not been transferring these funds to Metro. This is a good bill. Until Arriola is removed from office, he needs to be trusted with as little of Metro's money as possible. The mayor’s proposed budget includes a $157,300 reduction in the county clerk’s budget for the transfer of two Full Time Equivalent positions as a result of this ordinance. So, Arriola no longer would provide this service, but he would no longer be paid for providing it.

There may be a couple more bill that are tied to the outcome of the budget, that will be deferred to track the budget.

I have read the agenda and the analysis, but do not find anything else that looks very interesting. I am providing a less detailed analysis of this agenda on this occasion than I usually due because of time constraints, but I have read it and see nothing else that is controversial.

Remember, this is your chance to let your voice be heard.  Show up at the Court House to get a tee shirt showing your opposition to the tax increase.  Opponents of the tax hike will be meeting at the front entrance of the court house starting about 4:30.  Once the chamber is full, no more people will be permitted entrance.  The proponents of a tax increase are expected to also arrive early to take the available seats, so to get a seat in the chamber and a chance to speak during the public hearing, arrive early.

The Please note that signs are prohibited in the council chambers but one may wear buttons or shirts with messages. Cheers and applause are prohibited in the chamber. If the crowd gets too rowdy, the the Vice Mayor my clear the chamber. Please be respectful of those with whom you disagree and constrain your enthusiasm for those with whom you agree. I hope to see you there.

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