Sunday, May 17, 2020

What's on the Council agenda for May 19th: Seeking State authority to require paid sick leave, requiring face mask, picking on Short-term rentals, and the budget ordinance and tax rate.

by Rod Williams - The Council meeting will occur on Tuesday May19th at 6:30pm. Again, most council members will participate electronically and will not actually be in the chamber. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council staff agenda analysis. Below I am providing a summary and some commentary on what I deem the most important items on the agenda.

Resolutions. All resolutions are on the "consent" agenda. That means they are all lumped together and pass by a single vote.  Any member however, may ask for a bill to be taken off of consent.

Resolution RS2020-308 request a credit for all property and business taxes paid in advance or coming due for any period that a business was unable to operate due to government shut downs caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. This is on "consent" so should pass without opposition.

Resolution RS2020-315 authorizes the issuance of up to six hundred thirteen million dollars ($613,000,000) of interfund tax anticipation notes.  Metro has a lot of different pools of money for different functions, such as a Water and Sewer Fund and a Farmers Market Fund and a whole bunch of others.  It is normal to transfer money from one fund to another while waiting for revenue to replenish the funds. When Nashville's finances drew the attention of the Comptroller he said we must now formalized these fund transfers and this is what this does. Also this would authorized the mayor to borrow the money from a lending institution instead of interagency transfer. It is on the consent agenda. There are several other resolutions on the consent agenda authorizing issuing Tax Anticipation Notes and extending Metro's general obligation commercial paper program. This is routine stuff done this time of the year.

RESOLUTION RS2020-318 accepts a Coronavirus relief fund grant of $121,122,775 from the Federal Government. There is no required cash match for this money.  However, this money can only be used for unbudgeted expenditures related to preparation for, prevention of, and response to the coronavirus pandemic.  So, this cannot make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic. It is on consent.

Resolution RS2020-327 encourages private employers to provide paid sick leave to their

employees and urging Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly to repeal statutes that prevent the Metropolitan Government from requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. I oppose this.  If I were in the Council I would pull it from Consent and vote against it.  The first part is alright.  It is OK to "encourage" private businesses to pay sick leave, but many small businesses would go out of business if they had to.  I oppose asking the state to give Metro authority to require that private businesses provide sick leave.  A job without sick leave is better than no job.

Resolution RS2020-328 declares the Metropolitan Council’s intention not to approve any economic development incentive awards for a period of one year, and not until metrics are established regarding the awarding of such incentives.  I approve of this!

Bills on Second Reading

Bill BL2020-147 (as amended) concerns lobbyist registration. Anyone who is paid to influence Metro is supposed to register as a lobbyist. The current fee is $50. This would raise it to $100. It would also identify a new class of lobbyist called "volunteer lobbyist" and requires them to register. That is people who do not get paid to lobby but get reimbursed for expenses only. They would have to register but not pay the registration fee. I have reservation about this bill and fear we may be impeding the right of people to petition government for redress of grievances.

Bill BL2020-224 requires landlords to provide a 90-day notice to tenants prior to a sale of the property.

Bill BL2020-285 would require employees of essential businesses interfacing with the public to wear face masks. There is not even evidence that wearing a face covering does much good. I wear one but I don't want to force people to were one.

Bill BL2020-286 is the budget ordinance. It is amendable on third reading. The Council must adopt a substitute operating budget no later than June 30th or the budget as originally submitted by the Mayor becomes effective on July 1. For those who want a understanding of this budget, you may want to look at the staff analysis.

Bill BL2020-287 is the tax levy to fund the budget.  This will be deferred or passed an made amendable and a tax rate sufficient to fund whatever budget is approved will be adopted following the adoption of the budget on third reading.

Bills on Third Reading

Substitute BL2019-78 - This ordinance requires a minimum distance for any new Short Term Rental Property that are Not Owner-Occupied, from churches, schools, daycares, and parks. No new STRP permit could be located less than 100 feet from a religious institution, a school or its playground, a park, or a licensed day care center or its playground, unless, after a public hearing, a resolution receiving 21 affirmative votes is adopted by the Council. In my view this is uncalled for. I oppose this bill. I live on a street with several short-term rentals and have never had a problem. I have one diagonally across the street from me. Maybe some people do have a problem but that indicates a need for more enforcement not making it more difficult to have short-term rental. There are hotels and restaurants within 100 feet of some of the same class of entities identified in this bill. This would place greater restriction on homes rented short-term than we place on businesses. There is a greater likelihood of complaints against owner-occupied housing and long-term rental housing that there is from short-term rental.

BILL NO. BL2020-223 would permit a waiver from distancing requirements for liquor stores and their proximity to places of worship, residences and libraries. The waiver would have to be granted by resolution following a public hearing, the same way distance requirement waivers are approved for beer permits.

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