Sunday, March 19, 2017

What's on the 3-21-17 Council Agenda: Stormwater fee hike, More protection for pets, a Driving while Black report requirement, support for medical cannabis, $3.9M for the Fairgrounds, a debt limit for Metro, more authority for the auditor.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse.  Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you can be a well-informed citizen of our city and still not have to watch them. If, however, you are going to watch the council meeting, you really need the agenda and  the Council staff analysis, otherwise you will be clueless about what is going on.  Follow the highlighted links above to view the agenda and staff analysis.

There is not that much of controversy on this agenda. There are six appointment to Boards and Commissions on the agenda and you can expect all to be approved unanimously.  There are 12 bills on First Reading but bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote except in rare cases. I do not read bills until they get to Second Reading. There is one resolution on public hearing.  It is to allow an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit.

There are 34 resolutions on the consent agenda. Resolutions on "consent" are passed by a single vote of the council instead of being voted on individually. If a resolution has any negative votes in committee it is taken off of consent.  Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded.  Most of the resolutions are routine things like accepting grants. Here are the resolutions of interest. 

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-566  by Scott Davis expresses support for the Medical Cannabis Access Act currently pending before the Tennessee General Assembly. This was on the agenda the last two meetings and deferred. I strongly support this memorializing resolutions.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-587   request that the Metropolitan Department of Codes Administration seek diverse candidates that are inclusive and representative of Nashville’s local demographics and languages when filling existing vacancies and adding additional personnel to enforce property standards. I support this. Not because I favor preferential treatment for reverse discrimination, but it does seem like it would be helpful if we had codes officers who spoke Spanish. I know some want Nashville to be "English-only" and put the burden on immigrants to learn English.  However, it would save the city money and improve services to all of us if when a codes inspector knocks on the door with a house-full of Mexicans, the codes inspector could explain what he was there for and the violation. I would think an equally qualified codes inspector who is also bi-lingual would be a more valuable employee.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-591 appropriates  $3,897,200 to the Fairgrounds for administrative purposes. $2,5 million would be to fund the Summer Youth Employment program. $2.75K of this appropriation is revenue generated by the Fairgrounds above the amount budgeted for the year. This would pay overtime and other miscellaneous expenses.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-616  by Councilman Steve Glover would adopt a policy to set a percentage limit on the amount of debt service to pay General Obligation bonds in the budget.  This seems like a prudent measure. While times are good for Metro now, they may not always be so good.  Our debt obligations and pension obligations could force the city to raise taxes in hard times unless restraint on indebtedness is not exercised. This would set a maximum debt service limit of 10% of the operating budget.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-617  ask the police department to ask for more money
additional officers, salary increases, and additional police vehicles and motorcycles in the FY2018 budget proposal. I think this is bad idea. They will ask for more money without being prodded.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-618   requesting the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and enact legislation to increase penalties for the desecration of places of worship or burial. This is now a Class A misdemeanor which is the most serious class of misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. I am not sure this needs changed. I of course do not approve of desecrating houses of worship, but anyone caught doing so would most likely also be prosecuted for a Federal hate crime. I would have to carefully listen to the discussion in committee before being convinced this is needed.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-619 honors the life of State Senator Douglas Henry.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-620 recognizes Tommy Lynch upon his retirement after having served 46 years working for Metro Government. Most of that time he served with the Parks Department. He was a well-liked and respected Metro employee
Bills on Second Reading. There are 15 bills on Second Reading. Most of them are abandoning unneeded sewer easements and water easements and other routine business. There are a couple that deal with how people must provide for their pets protecting them from bad weather. One of the bills would extend animal protection laws county-wide, whereas now they only apply in the Urban Services District. These are the bill of interest.
BILL NO. BL2017-581  would grant full investigative authority to the Metropolitan Auditor in order to allow for independent audits and reviews of all Metropolitan Government departments, boards and commissions as well as the performance of contracts by entities that contract with the Metropolitan Government.
BILL NO. BL2017-588  would amend the graduated storm water user fee schedule. This fee is part of one's water bill and pays for the handling of storm water runoff. Those with larger homes or other impervious surfaces greater than 2,000 feet would pay more under this change.

Bills on Third Reading: These are 24 bills on Third Reading and not much that is of interest. Most are rezoning bill and they have all been approved by the Planning Commission. Here is this one of interest. 
BILL NO. BL2016-483 would require the police department to provide a quarterly report to the Council on how many traffic stops were made and what happened as a result of the stops. such as how many pat downs and how many searches and the race of the person stopped.

To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel.   If can stand the suspense and just wait I will post the video here and provide commentary.

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