Clarksville, TN – It looks to be a jammed packed evening at the council with the regular executive council session and a special session of the council to follow.
In the CDE part of the special session, several parts such as changes to the items voted on last week and appointment of a potential new CDE board have not been seen by council members until this evening (Wednesday) and the mayor is asking us to vote an approval at Thursday’s special session.
It has been stated at several council meetings, to include a closed session with our legal advisors, that we should not move ahead on some issues, but should wait until the legal system/judge has officially ruled on items pertaining to the CDE Board. I am not aware that the judicial system has provided a final say one way or another. The concern with waiting dealt with having both the city and CDE board agree to certain legal steps. The main one being one group would not sue the other and the board would be reworked. I have a large concern with the city moving ahead on the board changeover when it has been repeatedly said we would NOT take final action until the courts cleared it. Perhaps the mayor will have new information for the meeting saying this has taken place.
The basics of the mayor’s new proposed CDE board are:
- It will have five members (instead of seven). One member of the city council will be on the board. The mayor will be a non-voting ex-officio member of the board.
- No former mayor, council member or employee can be a board member for at least a year after expiration of term or employment. Maximum term is three years.
- Board members (with the exception of the council member) will be paid $200/month, which already is required.
- The Power Board will recommend a superintendent to the Mayor (the board makes that decision alone now) who, with approval of the city council, will appoint the superintendent.
- The Power Board may fire the superintendent, but the superintendent can appeal the firing to the city council (this is the same as applies to city department heads).
- The city council and Power Board will approve the budget.
- Generally, CDE will start following city operational procedures.
- CDE will be a city department. Although the more in-depth rules are 11 pages long, the short version I have given you provides the basics.
As for the city budget, I have voiced grave concerns on some issues such as raiding the Capital Projects Investment District (CPRD) funds. In one correspondence on this issue I had submitted that the taking of this money was “illegal”. Needless to say, my use of the term “illegal” did not go over well. Perhaps I should have stated the proposed budget action was not in accordance with an approved city ordinance covering such actions.
I was so concerned with this action and the $3.4 million dollar impact ($2.2 million of that in the FY2012 budget) this had on the budget that I requested the mayor hold a special session on this issue alone so we could iron out concerns. The mayor declined my request. Another council member requested that council members be polled to see if seven members (the charter allows for seven members to have a special session request and the mayor cannot refuse it) would request the special session on this issue. Six members said yes, five said no and one could not be reached. So no special session was held to resolve this matter. Part of my concern on the CPRD has now been validated.
Whatever the politically correct terminology, one of the “not in accordance with” associated CPRD issues was the funding of the new Airport Terminal from the CPRD. A couple of months ago the mayor presented a procedural budget change requesting that we borrow and finance the remaining part of the terminal (about a million dollars at that time). The council voted against the suggestion since we had “cash in hand” so to speak. Thinking this issue concluded, it was a surprise to see a funding change in the mayor’s proposed budget on this topic. The cash that had been set aside to pay for the terminal was taken and a financial arrangement to borrow the money to finish the terminal was installed in the mayor’s proposed budget. The mayor was challenged on this point at last week’s budget meeting. The council asked the city attorney to review this situation.
According to city ordinance, for any defeated topic to be brought back for consideration in less than one year, ¾ of the council would have to concur. No such request had been presented for changing the funding approach to the airport and based on the vote that half the council wanted full restoration of CPRD funds, ¾ approval was unlikely.
In the city attorney’s review, he has stated that the requirements of the ordinance, specifying the actions to be taken on previously defeated decisions, was valid and did apply to the budget question presented. Thus, the mayor’s proposed approach to taking CPRD money dedicated to the airport has to be reversed. As of 6:00pm this evening, the mayor has emailed a budget approach that returns that specific money to the CPRD. I am studying the details of changes.
Another budget concern that I have stated before, is the lack of funding to start the East-West Corridor project. The basic analysis of this transportation need and timelines involved show we must start it now or we will have to pay so much more to do it later that we will not be able to. The mayor has remained completely mum on this topic. Two studies show that in 20 years our current two East-West approaches will be in gridlock.
I’ll keep you posted.