Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Council to pass Metro Budget tonight. Council budget add $700K to mayor's budget! Fairgound gets subsidy but takes a blow!

Nashville council adds $200,000 fairgrounds subsidy to mayor's budget plan

Alternate budget increases mayor's plan by $702,000

by Michael Cass, The Tennessean, 6/4/2013 - The Metro Council is on track to approve a $1.8 billion operating budget that makes a few small changes to Mayor Karl Dean’s proposal, including a $200,000 subsidy for the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

The council’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved the substitute budget Monday afternoon, setting the stage for tonight’s final vote by the full council.(link)

My Comment: I am surprised the Council completed their budget work so soon. I am disappointed that the Council increased the mayor's budget by $700,000 by dipping into reserve funds.  I would have favored some reallocation of funds, but not increasing the budget. I would have like to have seen a budget that eliminated entirely the Metro Human Relations Department, the agency that sponsors the Youth Pavilion at the Gay Pride Festival, and reallocated that money to other departments. 

I favor the giving of the subsidy to the fairgrounds, but I am very disappointed that it ties that subsidy to approval of one of two option presented by a consultant hired to advise the city on the fairgrounds. I think there are much better options than either of the two presented by the consultants. One of the other options is to give a private entity a long-term lease on the properly with stipulations that they maintain the current uses. There is an entity that wants to do that and have promised to finance major upgrades to the site and have plans to add an attraction. The ties of the subsidy to one of the plans offered by the consultants appears to be part of a continuing effort to destroy the fairgrounds.

Normally I would not favor a subsidy to enterprise fund agencies that should be self supporting, but the Fairgrounds is losing money due to the effort of the mayor to close the fairgrounds and sell off the property for a corporate campus. The uncertainty at the fairground caused a loss of business and resulted in a loss of revenue. The city should subsidize the fairgrounds to give it a chance to recover from the inflicted wound. This tie of money to one of two bad choices however is not the solution the fair grounds needs.

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