Saturday, October 20, 2018

What happened at the Council meeting of 10-16-18: council approves mayor's $351M spending plan, more gentrification policies approved, Blue Ribbon Commission established.

This is the Council meeting of Tuesday, October 15. It is three and half hours long.  If you are going to watch ii, it will make a lot more sense if you can follow along with an agenda. To access a copy of the agenda, the agenda summary and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. Four members were absent for this meeting. Those absent were O'Connell, Mina Johnson, Bedne and Dowell.

Below is a summary of the meeting highlighting what I deem to be the most important items. After a couple ceremonial presentations, the Council gets down to business at time stamp 16.

The Public Comment period starts at timestamp 18:52 and ends at timestamp 25:55.  The first speaker advocates for the decriminalization of prostitution, another speaks about traffic problems, and another speaks about the problems in Metro Schools. Having an open public comment period is working out better than I thought it would.
There are a several position to be filled to various boards and commission. Most were confirmation of mayoral appointments and those were approved.

Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee appointees were voted upon. This is the Committee established to study TIF financing. TIF is the tool used to fund a lot of metro's Commercial development. When this tool is used, instead of the tax revenue from the development flowing into Metro coffers it flows to MDHA to fund development. The use of TIF is a major reason Metro is experiencing a revenue shortfall despite unprecedented growth. The nominees were Mayor Briley’s nominees Mr. Brian Kelsey and Ms. Talia Lomax-O’dneal and MDHA’s nominees Mr. Charles Robert Bone and Mr. Bert Mathews.The confirmation motion was seconded and adopted by a unanimous vote of the Council.

Council election to fill three vacant positions on the Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee: The President called for an election to fill three vacancies . There were a bunch of nominees. Some were ruled ineligible or withdrew. There was some parliamentary maneuvering to change the election process and that failed. Votes were taken and all of the votes were by roll call vote and each candidate received some negative votes. Dr. Paulette Coleman and Council Member Mendes were elected to the Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee.

A second vote was taken to fill a remaining vacancy. There were four candidates for the remaining position. Again there was some discussion and then Mr. Richard F. Warren garnering 16 votes was elected to the Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee.

Resolutions: Most were approved on the Consent Agenda, meaning they were not acted upon individually, but lumped together and passed by a single vote. Here are the resolutions of interest.

Resolution RS2018-1452  spends  $3,070,000.00 from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments. That is a lot of money to pull from this fund at one time. However, the fund is set up for this purpose. This was approved 32 to 0.
Resolution RS2018-1455  approves the issuance of up to $25,000,000 in GSD general obligation bonds to provide funding for various projects, $15,000,000 of the bond proceeds would be used for projects exclusively in Council District 1. Some of these are for projects not listed in the Capital Improvements Budget. I would expect this to be deferred or amended or defeated. The Council cannot fund projects not in the Capital Improvements budget. This resolution is sponsored by newly elected Councilman Hall of District 1. Usually these type resolutions are sponsored by the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. Hall moved to defer the resolution, which motion was seconded and approved by a voice vote of the Council.
Resolution RS2018-1454 (as amended)  to issue general obligation bonds  in an aggregate principal amount of not to exceed $351,100,000.  Council Member Vercher moved to defer the resolution, which motion was seconded and failed by a roll call vote: 9 "yes,"21 "No," and one abstention. After some parliamentary maneuvering and debate, and attempt was made to defer it again and that also failed by a vote of 10 to 20 to one. The resolution then passed by a vote of 22 in favor, 8 opposed and one abstention. The "no" votes were Cooper, Mendes, Hall, Swope, Hagar, Glover, Huezo, and Henderson. Council Cooper and other complain they did not see the list of projects and associated revenue sources until right before the meeting. Also, some of the bonds are no interest for the first year, which can have financial implications and needs more study. It seems like this was ramrodded through and the Council was buying a "pic in a poke."  To watch the council action on this resolution see time stamp 36:42- 1:6"34.
This discussion is worth watching. I am impressed by John Cooper. Angie Henderson also peruses a good line of questioning. To read The Tennessean's coverage of this issue see: Nashville council approves mayor's $351M spending plan, despite calls for delay.
 Bills on Second Reading: There are 16. These are the ones of interest.

Bill BL2018-1188  would establish a committee system to review high-value real property transactions by Metro Government. It was approved by a voice vote.

Bill BL2018-1281 (as amended) would require all metro employees and contractors doing business with Metro with contracts of over $500,000, to take a sexual harassment training course under the Direction of Metro Department of Personnel. There are a couple problems with this. It may be contrary to a state law that prohibits cities from imposing additional requirements on state licensed firms, Human Resources cannot say how much it will cost, and the city does not have the resources at this time to track and assure compliance. This was on Second Reading last Council meeting and was deferred. This time it was approved by a voice vote.
Bill BL2018-1329 establishes some rules for the residential parking permit (RPP) program. Some residential areas near popular commercial area have had a problem with parking. Visitors to the nearby commercial establishments have been taking all of the parking on neighboring streets and residents who rely on on-street parking can not park on their own street. This permit system attempts to solve that by allowing only cars with permits to park on that street. If however you want to have guest for a baby shower or family dinner, it means they would be illegally parking on your street. Residents could purchase two guest permits good for a year. While this RPP system is new to Nashville it is common in lots of larger urban areas. No doubt this policy will be tweaked from time to time.  This was on Second Reading last meeting and was deferred. It was approved by a voice vote.
Bill BL2018-1334 tweaks the  ticket tax for the Major League Soccer Stadium. I don't expect this to generate controversy, but it might. This would raise the overall price of attending a game and may suppress attendance. This was approved by a voice vote. Bills on Third Reading: There are 16. These are the ones of interest.
Bill BL2018-1183  would establish a distance of a quarter of a mile between auto

repair businesses and used auto car lots and "auto services."
This seems like too much micromanagement to me. It also seems like an attack on poor people.  I know Nolensville Road is not very attractive and if you drive the road south of the fairground now, you will see used tire shops and used auto dealers and similar places clustered. A lot of these places are owned by immigrants. Those already operating would be grandfathered in, but if ownership changed the establishment could not continue. I assume that is the way that would work. That is the way it normally works with changes like this.  New used tire shops could not open unless they were 1/4 mile away from other such businesses.  I think we should let the market work this out. Poor people need jobs and places to shop too. Bills like this push out poor people and indirectly cause a loss of affordable housing.  To have affordable housing you need affordable communities. Affordable communities are going to have used tire shops and alternative financial institutions such as pay day lenders. You cannot gentrify all of Nashville and still have affordable housing. This was approved by a vote of 29 to one. The only "no" vote was Angie Henderson.

Bill BL2018-1314   establishes the Blue Ribbon Commission to look for government efficiencies and cost savings. The Commission would be 15-member. This lays out how they are appointed and their duties. I am pleased to see the council doing this. I hope some good comes from it. Despite Metro's rapid growth we have a financial crisis that is only getting worse. This was approved 30 to zero.

Bill BL2018-1316 would establish screening requirements and standards for waste
dumpsters. This is great for those of us who have to walk or drive by unsightly dumpsters but will add expense for the same people who might want to open a used tire shop on Nolensville Rd as described above. Well intention measures like this drive gentrification by making it difficult for poor neighborhoods to exist and if all parts of the town are aesthetically pleasing to middle class taste, you price poor people out of their neighborhoods and this leads to loss of affordable housing and makes it harder for struggling entrepreneurs to start new businesses. You cannot not have a lot of affordable housing without affordable neighborhoods and affordable neighborhoods may have unscreened dumpsters behind tire shops. You can't still have affordable neighborhoods and expect every neighborhood to look like Green Hills. This was approved on a voice vote.  

For more details see the meeting minutes at this link.

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