Saturday, April 16, 2016

What's on the Council agenda for 4-19-16: $ for Farmers Market, reinning in MDHA.

The Metro Council meets Tuesday night April 19th at 6:30PM.  Council meetings are televised live on Comcast Channel 3 if one wants to watch it live.  The next day one can catch it on the Metro YouTube channel and I repost it  here. I watch it so you don't have to and summarize it and call attentions to any portions that may be worth watching.

Council meetings are not quite as boring if you know what the council is voting on. Here is a link to the agenda and the staff analysis.

I am only listing those items that I think are significant or are important to me and you may have an interest in some other item on the agenda, so it you really care, you may want to read the agenda for yourself.

There are ten appointments to Boards and Commissions on the agenda for Council confirmation.  Some of these positions are coveted and powerful.  If you follow local politics carefully, you may want to see who is getting appointments in the new administration. The council routinely rubber stamps whomever the mayor appoints. I suspect that even under the liberal Barry administration there is not a lot of diversity in appointments to boards and commissions, not that I think diversity for the sake of diversity is desirable goal.  I would be curious to know however, who is getting appointed.  I would like to see a breakdown by profession, race, gender, council district, and to whom the appointee to has made political contributions. If I had unlimted time, I would do such an analysis.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-172  appropriates $3,347,400 split between different departments to provide money to those departments that was not originally in their budget. This happens every year and some of this is understandable. When drawing up a budget the State Trail Courts, as an example, will not know how many trials they will have so they will not know how much to budget for jury pay so all they can do is estimate. At the end of the year, their expenditure and income must balance, so if they come up short this is where they get the money to make the accounts balance. On the other hand, some of this is just unjustified subsidy to a department. I like Farmers Market, but it has never been able to break even. When I say "break even," that does not include capital cost; they cannot cover their operating cost.  This resolution contains an additional $837,900 for Farmers Market. Maybe it is time to privatize Farmers Market or turn it over to the Parks Department or change their mission or change management.  Farmers Market is a money pit. I am not opposed to a modest subsidy, but they should not have an open unlimited line of credit.  I do not know the full financial picture of Farmers Market, but it seems they are always needing more money.  At the last Budget and Finance Committee meeting there were a lot of hard questions asked of Farmers Market and B&F recommended this be deferred one meeting, so at the last council meeting it was deferred "by rule."  It will be interesting to see what happens in B&F on Monday.

 RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-205   authorizes "the Metropolitan Department of Law to compromise and settle the two distinct wage and hour class action claims brought by Vonda Noel on behalf of herself and all other similarly situated Davidson County Sheriff's Office employees against the Metropolitan Government in the amount of $199,936.25 for the Fair Labor Standards Act class; and in the amount of $1,900,000.00 for the Rule 23 unpaid wages class; for a total of $2,099,936.25 to be paid out of the Judgment and Losses Fund." The staff analysis devotes five pages to explaining this. For more information see the analysis at this link, starting on page seven.

BILL NO. BL2016-123  on second reading would establish than any proceeds from the sale of land owned by MDHA in the Rutledge Hill redevelopment district will be re-invested in the Rutledge Hill redevelopment district or returned to the General Fund. It would also require MDHA to report to the council the status of  indebtedness obligations owed by MDHA related to the Rutledge Hill Redevelopment Plan. This is a positive development. MDHA has had too much authority and TIF has been abused. Too little money from downtown development flows into the General Fund. I am pleased to see the Council take this and similar steps. The staff analysis devotes two pages to explaining this bill. For more information see page 13 of the staff analysis and read the bill.

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