Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Update: What is on the July 3, 2012 Metro Council Agenda.

An ill advised requirement that all Metro employees live in the County, and end to a benefit for former Council Members, and spending lots of money are on the agenda.  

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. Council meetings can be really, really boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on. With an agenda and analysis, they are just really boring.

I read the analysis and agenda for you so you don't have to. This council meeting has the council accepting a lot of grants from the state and issuing a lot of bonds.

Below are the things that I think are worth being aware of that are on this agenda.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-182 on public hearing would allow roadside fruit and vegetable stands  in Agriculturally zoned districts. This is good bill, I don't know of any opposition.

RESOLUTION NOS. RS2012-316 & RS2012-317 by CM McGuire is on the consent agenda so unless someone pulls it off, this will not even be discussed and will be passed by unanimous consent on a voice vote.  This resolution authorize the issuance of $10 million of general obligation qualified energy conservation bonds for improvements to Bridgestone Arena. A general obligation bond pledges the full faith and credit of Metro Government. Property taxes pay off the bonds. However, the Federal government has pledged to pay 70% of the interest on the bonds as part of the federal stimulus plan.

This bond issue is tied in with the recently renegotiated contract with the Predators for operation of the Bridgestone Arena. The Council probably has no choice but to approve this bond issue but I certainly do not have a full understanding of all of the interrelated minutia of the new predators deal, however it looks like the city negotiated a better deal and this bond issue is part of it. The Predator deal itself will not have to go to the Council since the Sports Authority has authority to negotiate for the city. Part of the Predators deal is a new seat user fee of up to $2 added to each ticket sold to pay for improvements to the arena. Metro Council will have to approve the new seat user charge but that is not on this agenda.

RESOLUTION NOS. RS2012-318 &RS2012-319 are also on the consent agenda and authorize $55 million dollars in revenue bonds to replace the aging thermal plant with a a steam/chilled water energy generating facility. In case you don't know, most state and Metro buildings and some big commercial buildings get their heat and cooling from a central facility owned by metro (District Energy System). The fee the users pay for heat and chilled water pay off the bonds. However, in the event the DSC revenues are insufficient to pay off the bonds, the full faith and credit of Metro Government is pledged. I hope the revenue estimates are correct and this does not put the tax payers at risk.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-161 by Council Members Tygerd, Maynard & Weiner is on second reading. This bill would require all new employees of the Metropolitan Government to be residents of Davidson County. In my view, this is a very bad bill. In Tennessee, only the city of Memphis has such a policy. Metro employees are a built in voting block for union friendly, tax friendly candidates for office and a lobbying force for higher taxes.  I served in the Council when all employees had to live in the county. Employees vote heavily, they campaign for candidates and they contact their councilmen. I would prefer no employees lived in the County. If this passes it will make future tax increases harder to defeat. In addition, I think we should seek the best employees regardless of where they live. This bill has been disapproved by the Personnel Committee of the Council. This bill needs to be defeated!

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-162 by Councilmen Todd, Duvall & Clairbore would eliminate the subsidized health insurance benefit for members of council after they leave office. When this benefit was first passed, Councilmen earned far less than they do today and there much fewer former council members. With the advent of term limits, there are many more former council members and this benefit cost the city about $300,000 a year and the cost will increase over time. This bill deserves to pass.

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