Monday, July 17, 2017

What's on the Council agenda for 7/18/2017: $26 million from the 4% fund.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. There is not much of interest on the agenda.  There is nothing that I would expect to generate debate or passion. There is a large spending bill but it probably will not generate controversy and it probably shouldn't.  It is routine except it is for a lot money but it is a lot of request from different departments, all rolled into one bill. There is an anti-home sharing bill on the agenda but it is most likely going to be deferred.

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 on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

If you are going to watch the Council meeting, you need a copy of the Council agenda and the Council staff analysis or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

There are six appointment to Boards and Commissions on the agenda and you can expect all to be approved unanimously. One of the appointees is to the Hospital Authority. If the Council would do so, the approval of an appointee to this money pit would be an occasion for the Council to influence policy but the Council does not take advantage of this opportunity and will simply rubber stamp the mayors appointee.

There are two bills on public hearing, one revises and sets the tax levy rates for the central business improvement districts in the Gulch area and the central business improvement district for downtown. Properties in these two district pay an addition tax levy to support additional services provided in those districts. Following the recent reappraisal of property within Davidson County, including the property within the DCBID and GCBID, the special assessment rate for each district must now be lowered. This is routine and should not generate controversy. There are no resolutions on public hearing. There are only 5 bills on First Reading, and they are all lumped together and pass by a single vote. First Reading is a formality that gets a bill on the agenda. Bill are not scrutinized or considered by committee until after First Reading.

There are 18 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passed the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Since the committees have not met yet, some resolutions which are listed as on the consent agenda may not be on the consent agenda when the council meets. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda or have there "no" vote or abstention recorded. None on the resolutions on this agenda appear controversial.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-785  appropriates a whopping $26 million from the General Fund Reserve Fund, also called the 4% fund, for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments of the government. I think this is one of the largest request ever made from this fund in a single bill. I hope the Council Budget and Finance Committee very carefully evaluates each of these request. The largest request are $1 million for General Hospital, $4 million for Police for mobile vehicle laptop computers and printers and a start on equipping police with body cameras, $1 million for Libraries and $1 million for Parks.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-786  and RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-787 appropriates money to subsidize the development of what is called "workforce housing." This is housing for those who make between 60% and 120% of the area median income.

Bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of interest.
BILL NO. BL2017-801  and BILL NO. BL2017-802  both deal with obstruction or closure of public right of ways.  801 says that says that if a right of way is going to be obstructed for six months or more that the applicant must also get approval from the Director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement and the Director of Transportation and Sustainability. Currently, the applicant must simply get the approval of the Public Works Department.  802 would impose a fine for obstructing or closing a right of way without a permit or exceeding the scope of what is authorized by the permit.  While I hate to make it even more cumbersome  for companies to do business, construction closing or blocking of a street can be an inconvenience to the public. I do not know how serious of a problem this is however, but these requirements seem reasonable.
Bills of Third Reading of interest. 
BILL NO. BL2017-608 would restrict all home sharing (Short Term Rental Property, AirBnB), in which the owner does not live on the property to areas zoned for multi-family.  This is likely to be deferred. An  ad hoc committee is still working on other proposals to take away property rights of those sharing their home and this will be considered by that committee to come up with a more comprehensive set of ordinances or one big ordinance that address the issue of home sharing.

BILL NO. BL2017-701  by Karen Johnson is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.  It would apply an Urban Design Overlay District on 11.25 acres on Moss Springs Rd and Bluewater Trace. An Urban Design Overlay is a tool to insure that future development or redevelopment is in character with what already exist in the neighborhood and addresses such things as height  of buildings and construction material and orientation of the front door and location of the garage. The Planning Commission says this would impose standards that are more stringent than what constitutes the current character of the neighborhood. A disapproved bill requires 27 affirmative votes to pass.

BILL NO. BL2017-719 by Scott Davis  is a rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. It will require 27 votes to pass.  I am only pointing out this bill because it is disapproved. Some council members will not vote contrary to a Planning Commission recommendation and doing so is often frowned upon as "councilmanic courtesy." I do not think the Planning Commission should never be overruled, otherwise why not just make the Planning Commission the final authority. On the other hand, I do not think the local council member should have any property he wants rezoned, rezoned without question.  Ideally when voting to override the Planning Commission, council members should carefully evaluate the rezoning on its merits.
BILL NO. BL2017-741 would require that private parking lots or garages post a sign listing the amount of any fines or penalties that may be charged by the parking facility and to post such information not only at entrances but also at each automatic pre-payment station for those with that type arrangement. Parking facilities must already post their parking fees at the entrance of the facility. This seem reasonable.

BILL NO. BL2017-782 by Councilman Roberts is another rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. 

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