Sunday, June 17, 2018

(Pt.2) What's on the Council agenda for 6-17: More regulations on dogs, hotels, scooters and metro hiring; the Donelson Transit-oriented Redevelopment Plan

By Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.  Below is a summary of what is on the agenda. The most important item is the annual operating budget and I have discussed that in a separate post at this link

Elections and Confirmation

There is an election to fill one vacancy on the Industrial Development Board. This Board controls a lot of money and hands out corporate welfare by giving sweetheart deals to favored companies. Another way of saying it is they incentivize companies to locate in Nashville by giving them preferential treatment. It develops property then leases it to businesses. Since the property remains the property of Metro Government and thus exempt from property taxes, companies awarded these deals do not have to pay property taxes but instead pay "payment in lieu of taxes" or PILOT, which is often much less than they would pay in taxes. Also, the IDB may do the same for developers of affordable housing. While the public knows little about how the board operates and doesn't care who sits on the board, some business interest lobby hard to see their favorite candidate sit on the board. The two candidates are Tequila Johnson and Quin E. Segall. I have no knowledge of either.

There are 13 mayoral appointments to Boards and Commission before the Council for confirmation. Usually, these are confirmed without controversy, discussion or dissension.  
There are three resolutions on Public Hearing all asking for an exemption from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit.

Resolutions: There are 18 of them. Most are routine things like accepting grants and settling lawsuits out of court. Here are the ones of interest:
Resolution RS2018-1253  extends the extends the duration of the water and sewer extendable commercial paper program. I do not know if this is prudent or not and I have not watched the Budget and Finance Committee meeting where this may have been discussed, but it does raise a red flag. It appears to me that instead of paying debts when they become due we get extensions. In a household this would be a sign of a household in financial difficulty. Any insight as to the prudence of this action from a knowledgeable person would be welcome.

Resolution RS2018-1262  appropriates $3,500,000 from the undesignated fund balances of the MNPS General Purpose Fund to Metro Schools. 

Resolution RS2018-1263 is a resolution requesting the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and enact legislation to allow for online publication, instead of newspaper publication, when public notices are required. This makes sense to me. Now, these public notices are published in publications that no one reads, that is just full of notices. 
Bills on Introduction and First Reading: There are 10 bills on first reading. Bills on First Reading are normally considered as a group and are seldom discussed. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. Unless a bill is ridiculously atrocious it should be passed on first reading. Bills are not assigned to committee or analyzed by council staff until after they have passed first reading. I have not carefully reviewed the bills on first reading, but will before second reading. There is one bill on First Reading that is very significant. Bill BL2018-1205  would save the fairgrounds by prohibiting the giveaway of the tea acres that is slated to be given to the developers of the planned soccer stadium. This is a good bill. I don't think anyone would try to kill it on first reading but they may.

Bills on Second Reading:  There are 27 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of importance.
Bill BL2018-1189  would require Metro to make an even greater effort to make sure some Metro business goes to minority contractors when Metro has projects to put for bid. The staff analysis says Metro legal has expressed concern that the bill may contain unconstitutional race and gender based preferences and is inconsistent with the current framework of the Procurement Non-Discrimination Program.

Bill BL2018-1200 would require that if a  hotels or roominghouses accept cash payment, they must also accept at least one other form of payment such as check or credit cards. I seldom carry cash and would find it inconvenient if I tried to do business with an entity that was cash-only, but why not let the market work this out.  Why must the government try to micromanage every aspect of commerce and our lives?

Bill BL2018-1201  would tighten animal control regulations. Now, you are not supposed to leave your pooch out if the heat index will be above 95. This lowers it to 85. Why? Lots of people work outside with a heat index of 95. At one time dogs lived in unairconditioned houses with their masters. We did not always have air conditioning and animals survived. Animal Control says to enforce this will take more people, space, and equipment and cost $472,617. That is the way government grows. An extra $472,617 hear and an extra $472,617 there and pretty soon you are talking about real money and have to raise taxes. 

Bill BL2018-1202 are proposed new rules for scooter prompted by the arrival of
Bird Scooter here in Nashville. It would require new fees including a fee of $40 per scooter. If the Bird people say they can live with this, I would support it, but I think it is ridiculous that Metro tries to hinder or stop every new economic innovation. Bird Scooters are undocked and an app on you phone can find the closest one, you can activate it by use of your phone app, ride it to your destination and then leave it. This could contribute to Nashville's mobility and be another transit option, yet Metro is fighting this innovative service. 
Bills on Third Reading: There are  seven. One is the Metro annual operating budget which I have reported on in another post. Here are the other ones of interest.
Substitute BL2018-1139 (as amended)   approves the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan. There is a new authority given to cities to plan, facilitate and guide develop around transit stops to encourage a certain kind of development around those stops and to give cities the authority to issue Tax Increment Financing bonds for improvements in the designated area. This would be the first time this authority has been used. This designation would apply to the Donelson stop on The Nashville Star line. This bill does a lot. There is a lot of detail in the staff analysis for those who want to know more. I have no problem with this concept but think it might go too far in trying to micro manage development.  Previous I had expressed a concern is that this might confer the power of eminent domain to MDHA for use in this area.  I have since spoken to the sponsor and have been assured this is not the case. With that assurance, while I still have reservations about the reach of this bill, on balance I think it is a beneficial bill. 
To read 20-page MDHA report on the plan, follow this link
Here is a link to The Nashville Business Journal report on this issue: What a development in Donelson means for Nashville's $5.4 billion mass-transit overhaul 
The Tennessean coverage: Donelson debates Nashville's first planned transit-oriented district.

Bill BL2018-1185  is the Metro tax levy, since the proposed Metro budget does not call for a tax increase, the tax levy would not change unless Councilman Mendes' bill passes which calls for a tax increase.
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 and you can watch it live on Roku. 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.



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