Thursday, April 03, 2014

Council meeting of 4-1-2014 update: The $719,000 more thrown at Farmers Market meeting.

This is a relatively short meeting at just over an hour long. Council meetings can be really boring it you don't know what the Council is voting on. When you do, they are still boring, but not quite as boring. To get your own copy of the Council agenda click here; to get your copy of the agenda analysis you can download it here.

There are several zoning bills on pubic hearing that generate citizen participation but they would interest no one except those in the vicinity of the subject properties so I am not reviewing them. I skimmed this part of the meeting quickly so I could have missed something of interest.

BILL NO. BL2014-715 by Council Member Blalock on public hearing would require the zoning application fees and public hearing notice costs be borne by the city for amendments to the official zoning map initiated by a member or members of the Metropolitan Council. The Director of Finance has said this would cost over $93,000 a year and did not approved it for availability of funds. The administration can find $9 million for budget overruns but rejects this bill as too costly. No one speaks in opposition to the bill. Former Councilman  John Summers speaks in favor. I think this is a reasonable bill.

As Summers explains, at one time there was no single family zoning in Nashville. Duplexes were permitted in any residential zoned area. If a neighborhood wants to change the zoning of their neighborhood from current zoning to single family or make other changes, the fees could cost thousands of dollars. This bill passes on second reading.  I hope the Council stands up to the administration and approves this good bill. However, I would be pleased if the Council cut $92,000 of wasteful spending elsewhere, such as farmers market, to make up for the projected cost. (see 37:11 - 42:07)

Resolutions that made it to the consent agenda pass without any being pulled. 

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1031 appropriates over $9 million to various agencies mostly from the 4% fund to fund departments that exceeded their budget. The largest is $5.2 million to the hospital authority to fund the transition payments to employees of the nursing homes metro is privatizing. Some of this money will be offset from payments to the city from the companies taking over the two metro facilities.

$714,900 is going to Farmers market. Farmers market continues to be an expensive drain on the city and cannot break even. They got a subsidy of $214,600 in this year’s budget and now need an additional $714,900. To learn why the Farmers market is such a wasteful enterprise read this post from citizen activist Ken Jakes: Why the Farmers Market is a failure and should not be bailed out.

I an disappointing that not a single council member would take the Farmers Market to task for their failure to operate efficiently and let it be known that they must figure out how to be self-sufficient or at least operate on a much smaller subsidy.  I do not expect much from most of our council members but there are about a half dozen "conservative" council members who ought to be ashamed for not taking the opportunity to advocate for efficient and oppose waste. The resolution passes unanimously.  I still wonder what is the difference between a liberal council member and a conservative council member.

BILL NO. BL2014-696 by Councilman Claiborne on Second reading amends the Metro code to require the Director of Finance to submit an annual debt report to the Metropolitan Council. This is a good bill. I don't know why no one thought of this before. The council needs to know the debt of the city and future obligations as they consider the annual budget. This bill passes unanimously.

Here is the Nashville Scene's report:


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