Clarksville, TN – A number of things have been happening or underway and I thought I would pass on some info to keep you up to date.
International Council of Shopping Centers (ISCS) – A couple of weeks ago city and chamber representatives went to Las Vegas to promote the city for new business opportunities. As with every promotion effort, only time will tell how successful things were.
However, it appears another eatery or two wants to come here and good discussions were held with several other businesses that are interested in Clarksville. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Jimmy John’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and successful meetings with Publix are examples of past successful efforts.
Often these companies will schedule fly-in or drive-in visits to see Clarksville and meet with local officials to include the Chamber, both mayors, planning staff and real estate representatives. Keep your fingers crossed.
As you saw in my council meeting notes, the city will be looking to terminate the marina contract with Mr. Batts. Delays due to weather, construction delays, and a major change in the financial climate have hurt this particular business effort to be accomplished within the timelines required. Mr. Batts owns and operates an excellent marina at Prizer Point and there is no doubt his marina would have been top tier. Sixty of the first 120 planned boat slips already had reserve cash deposits placed on them.
The city will prepare another request for proposal for other prospective marina builders and operators. The plan is to have a marina in operation by next April/May 2012.
Council members have a draft copy of the proposed 2012 city budget. We just concluded our first meeting on the budget this evening (Thursday June 9th). Here is some data on the proposed budget (rounded):
- FY 2012 Revenue: $78 million; FY 2011: $69 million – Increase: $9 million
- FY 2012 Expenditures: $78 million; FY 2011 $73 million – Increase $5 million
- FY 2012 Surplus: $300,000
- FY 2012 Emergency Fund: $16 million
While on the surface these numbers look good, there are issues with how it was accomplished. The mayor took $2 million out of the Capital Project Revenue District and used it to finance and balance the budget. This action is in violation of the financial revenue ordinance that basically states that fund is to be used to finance capital projects such as buildings, roads, or other related infrastructure needs.
You may recall that we used this fund to pay for the new Airport terminal. Some of its money is used to pay for money borrowed to rebuild Peacher’s Mill Road. It was also used to pay for the bridge on the Greenway. The general purpose of this fund was to pay for smaller capital projects that would be at least $500,000 and have a life of 10 years or more. In the FY 2012 budget $750,000 has to pay for the VA Home as the city’s part of the agreement. This fund would pay for that. Another $600,000 is needed in building repairs on the museum (the city owns the building). The fund would pay for this.
Thus, the intent and capability of the Revenue District is to pay for projects such as these in full and immediately. If these projects were paid for out of the fund, $650,000 would still remain for additional capital projects such as the money to do the Environmental Study required for the East-West Corridor (which the mayor did not fund). However, the mayor removed the money and placed it in the city general fund and is paying for anything and everything else. Instead of paying for these two projects and being finished with them, the mayor wants to borrow the money to do them. Thus, we will continue to nickel and dime ourselves with debt on small projects that we have the capability to pay off immediately.
Debt has its place in city operations for major projects; however, the Revenue District fund was developed to allow the city to not have to borrow money for small projects and needs. It was the “piggy bank” to do such projects. I do not agree with the mayor on this money alteration and it is in violation of Special Revenue ordinance developed for the District. We have done well the past four years with the assistance of this fund.
Until this issue is settled, any work on the budget is useless. I asked the mayor at this evening’s meeting if the council does not authorize her action to remove this money for other purposes, would she submit a revised budget to the council. The mayor will not. I can understand the mayor throwing the ball back in our court and ignoring the revenue District ordinance because difficult decisions will have to be made to cut almost $2 million in general funding. If the council does not support her action and if she continues to refuse to submit a revised budget, the council will have to take the lead and reduce the budget.
The mayor will not take any action to settle the money transfer issue, but will rely on the council for any action it deems is needed. It was mentioned that we could vote on the issue at the same time we vote on the budget. I am at a loss as to how this accomplishes anything. If we wait, then vote to not allow the mayor to transfer the money, we would be trying to adjust a budget on last minute actions.
I will take action tomorrow (Friday) to request a voting session be held in association with next Monday’s budget work session to settle the money transfer issue. I believe the Revenue District needs to be left alone and used for the purpose it was intended.
As you may already know, Mayor McMillan was in the hospital for tests and has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. While the mayor looked a bit tired this evening, she is doing well and moving as fast as her healing knee (which she messed up skiing back in December) will allow her. I know you join me in wishing her the best and keeping a positive outlook to the future.