Wednesday, September 17, 2014

(update) What happened in the Metro Council 9-16-14: The another-Million- for-'Nashville' meeting.

This is a short meeting at only 40 minutes long. If you want to link to the staff analysis, agenda and my commentary follow this link.

After the Pledge and prayer, the first order of business is a recognition given to CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates.  The presentation is made by Councilman Westerholm. CASA trains volunteers to speak for abused and neglected children caught in the court system and helps them find safe and permanent homes. I am a little familiar with the program. I once had a volunteer working with me at my place of employment, trying to start a support group for single mothers seeking to get child support. Unfortunately, this effort never was successful.  This same volunteer was also active in CASA and I learned from her some of the heart breaking cases in which she was involved. CASA does important work. This is a well-deserved honor.  If someone is looking for meaningful volunteer work, I think working with CASA would be very rewarding.

Confirmation of appointments to boards and commissions are all approved. All resolution on the consent agenda pass. Three resolutions listed below were not on consent:

 RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1215 appropriates $2,573,300 to various departments and includes $1 million to fund an economic incentive grant for the TV show Nashville. Supplemental appropriations are how equipment and repairs are paid for and how departments with cost overruns get more money. Included in this resolution is $250,000 to host the League of Cities Convention in 2015. This is the first I had heard of this.  I think this is money well spend.  It brings thousands of locally elected officials from all over the country to Nashville and lots of exhibitors that do business with cities. Nashville shows them a good time and showcases what we are doing right in our city. They will spend a lot of money while here but it also raised the profile of Nashville. 

The controversial part of this is the $1 million for Nashville. As it turns out it apparently is not controversial, at least not in the council. It passes unanimously. Nashville has been good advertising for Nashville, no doubt, but things like that are hard to measure.  Also, having the program filmed in Nashville has helped develop the film industry in this city.  However, I do not support another million to subsidize the program. Nashville has been renewed for a third season. If at this point they were to film the program elsewhere, the skylines and scene footage would still be Nashville and the title would still be Nashville. We would get the advertising benefit even it was filmed in Atlanta or Hollywood. The staff analysis says the filming of Nashville adds $40 million to the economy in spending on salaries, good, and services. In a way, this is not much different than when we pay a company to stay in Nashville or to locate to Nashville, but I don't much like that either. I think it is time to pull the plug on subsidizing 'Nashville' but the Council passes this bill without discussion.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1216  appropriates $3,959,500.00 to various other departments and it passes unanimously.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1217  authorizing the execution and delivery of an economic development incentive grant agreement between The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and Music City Productions, Inc. which is the paperwork for the $1 appropriated in 1215 above and it passes unanimously.
Bills on First reading pass unanimous as is the custom. Everything on Second and Third reading pass and none of the bills are of much interest.  Almost all are rezoning bills or bills concerning acquiring or abandoning easements or letting signs protrude over a sidewalk.

Below is the meeting of the Budget and Finance committee. This provides a more detailed explanation of the bills and resolutions that spend money and councilmen ask questions. To really understand the operation of the Metro Council and how the city is spending money, one needs to watch the meetings of B&F.

Below is the Tennessean's report on this Council meeting. 

'Nashville' gets $1 million from Metro, double last year's grant
The Tennessean ‎-The Metro Council voted unanimously and without debate Tuesday for a $1 million economic development grant to the local production of ABC's “Nashville,” ..

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