The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the June 15, 2015 City Council Meetings. The complete agenda packet is found here and a video can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as part of the July 2015 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.
VII. PUBLIC HEARINGS AND FIRST READINGS OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance to carry over a temporary tax rate from FY2015 by imposing a temporary tax rate and adopting appropriations. This was the first reading of our FY2016 budget. As I discussed here, it contains an increase in spending of over $2.8 million. Because we are still awaiting the final word from Roane County’s appraisals, we are still unable to accurately calculate revenues. As written, this ordinance would pass a budget that would require an 8 cent tax increase but would retain the flat rate of $2.39 that, in no possible way, could cover the proposed expenditures. No amendments were proposed nor voted on. Motion passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay”
Resolution adopting a continuing appropriation and budget for FY 2016 until such time as a new appropriation and budget ordinance is adopted. Motion passed 7-0. This resolution allows the city manager to continue operating the city using the established tax rate and budget from 2015 until the 2016 budget is passed. It was not included in the agenda packet, was added by the city manager just prior to the beginning of the meeting and my request for an electronic copy of the city manager has, to date, gone unanswered.
Note on the budget: No date for the final vote has been established. These are highly unusual circumstances given the appraisal results and the delays in Roane County. As best as we understand, we do not expect to pass the budget on second reading before August.
a. Resolution approving annual action plan and allocations of CDBG entitlement funds (federal funds) in the amount of $210,796. Motion passed 7-0
b. Resolution certifying that the city will affirmatively further fair housing and will take appropriate action as identified in the analysis of impediments to fair housing. Motion passed 7-0
c. Resolution approving an agreement with Ray Evans for economic development services for FY2016 in the amount of $54,000. Motion passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay”
d. Resolution approving an agreement with Steve Jones for economic development services for FY2016 in the amount of $54,000. Motion passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay”
e. Resolution approving contract with the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) to promote tourism for an amount of $325,000. Motion passed 7-0.
Notes regarding the economic development contracts above: Both of these contracts increased by $12K each. Last year, I supported Mr. Jones’ contract based on his having been in the position for less than a year and based on justifications discussed here. However, those deals did not come to fruition and the one deal (CVMR) that is attributed to Mr. Jones is also attributed to the city manager (whose office alone has a budget of over $500K) and the Chamber of Commerce (to whom the taxpayers gift $175K per year). CVMR, turns out, is now asking for (and will likely get) a 100% 14 year tax abatement on personal property. I fail to understand why we are we even entertaining this since the purpose of these incentives is to entice companies to come here and CVMR is, in fact, already here.
My vote for Mr. Evans’ contract had a similar basis. To date, the mall still has not sold (Latest reports were that the sale was to finalize today) Every deal that is credited to Mr. Evans (the mall, the Alexander Inn, Jackson Square, the Woodland TIF) has been subsidized by the taxpayer in the form of generous tax breaks (that are not afforded to most other businesses and possibly to their competitive detriment), direct taxpayer funded gifts ($1.5M for the mall +$13M TIF) or taxpayer-funded grants ($800K state grant for parking lot at Jackson Square). I see no logic in paying someone to bring in businesses that we then, in turn, have to pay to come here. Mr. Watson provided no data to demonstrate ROI for these taxpayer funded positions even though their sole purpose is economic development. What’s more, we fund a number of other entities for essentially the same purpose (Tech 2020, Innovation Valley, etc).
IX. CONSENT AGENDA 3 items passed by unanimous vote
b. Resolution accepting a $16,000 Emergency Management Grant from TN Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) for off-site emergency planning and response.
c. Resolution waiving competitive bids and awarding Oracle America annual maintenance contract for financial software system in the amount of $25,685.
X. FINAL ADOPTION OF ORDINANCES
An ordinance amending the due date and delinquent date of city taxes when state or county re-appraisal timetable falls behind the city’s due date and delinquency dates. Motion passed 7-0