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Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan gives “State of the City” address at Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce Power Breakfast
Posted By Clarksville Online News Staff On Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 2:29 pm In News | No Comments
Annual Speech lists Goals and Achievements
Clarksville, TN – Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan delivered her annual “Clarksville: State of the City” address to a group of about 200 civic leaders who gathered Tuesday morning for the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce Power Breakfast.
Highlights included a recap of the City’s major accomplishments in 2016 and a preview of Mayor McMillan’s goals and aspirations for the City in 2017.
Goals include progress on a new Downtown Performing Arts Center and a new Family Athletic Complex.
Among the long list of accomplishments were several in each of three priority areas: Public Safety, Roads and Transportation, and Quality of Life.
Public safety highlights included the opening of two new fire stations in 14 months and the hiring of 15 new firefighters to cover the manpower needs of the growing Clarksville Fire Rescue department. Mayor McMillan also applauded the Clarksville Police Department for achieving a crime rate of 93 crimes per 1,000 population — the lowest crime rate in the State among cities with a population of 100,000 citizens or greater.
Roads highlights included progress on the city-funded Northeast Connector, and major ongoing projects to improve capacity on Rossview Road near Exit 8 and on Warfield Boulevard near Ted Crozier Boulevard. All three projects will relieve growing traffic congestion, and the Rossview and Warfield projects are being carried out through strong collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The Mayor touted the Governor’s Foundation for Health’s recent announcement naming Clarksville a “Healthier Tennessee Community” as a major Quality of Life achievement, along with a big list of new park facilities and programs championed by the City’s award-winning Clarksville Parks and Recreation Department.
Good Morning! I’m so happy to be with you today and I’m proud to share some exciting details about a number of recent accomplishments in the City of Clarksville.
First, I’d like you all to join me in a moment of silence to honor former Mayor Ted Crozier Sr., who passed away last week. Ted was a great friend and adviser, and he was a great leader who helped move Clarksville forward. So let’s observe a quiet moment to honor him and thank him.
With that, let me talk about the City’s extensive focus on our military partners at Fort Campbell and programs directed toward our large number of military veterans.
In response to the advice of Mayor Crozier, I decided to create an office of Military and Veterans Liaison within City Government. This office works to maintain and strengthen our partnerships and collaboration with Fort Campbell. This led to our participation with other regional partners in a formal study to create the Fort Campbell Strong Economic Growth Plan. This just-released plan, which you will be hearing more about, recommends forming a regional alliance to provide a unified voice and enhanced support for Fort Campbell.
Before we go further, there are some members of the City Council and City Department Heads here, so please stand and be recognized.
This is a great audience of business and community leaders, and I appreciate each of you being here and being involved. I’m excited to share some specifics about the growth and success of the City of Clarksville, and some thoughts about how we should move forward.
VISION, MISSION AND GOALS
I’m midway through my second term as Mayor of the City of Clarksville.
The overarching goal of my administration has been and will remain: Public service with Integrity. I will always do my level best to serve each of you — and all our citizens — with honesty and transparency, and lead for the good of all.
My mission is to make Clarksville the best city in America in which to live, work and raise our families. And we want to do that for all Clarksvillians.
I’ve said before, there are services and programs that only government can realistically provide. On the other hand, we must continue to invest our time and the taxpayers’ money in projects and programs that lay a solid foundation for growth and opportunity, the cornerstones on which we build more and better jobs, a thriving local economy, and an adequate and growing tax base.
This isn’t easy, but this mission is what drives me every day as I work for a better Clarksville.
OPERATIONAL PRIORITIES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
City Government is a big complicated operation, and good work goes on each day in a multitude of important departments and offices. However, there are three key needs that Clarksvillians consistently tell me mean the most to them : 1) Public Safety, 2) Roads and Transportation, and 3) the Health, Fitness, Recreation and quality of life of our residents.
PRIORITY 1 — PUBLIC SAFETY/FIRE RESCUE
In Public Safety, for example, Clarksville Fire Rescue has opened two new fire stations in the past 14 months. We dedicated a beautiful new Fire Station 11 in September, fulfilling the city’s promise to improve response times to the growing new neighborhoods around Exit 1. Fourteen months earlier, we dedicated Fire Station 12 near Exit 8, which fulfilled a commitment we made when we recruited Hankook Tire to our community.
In addition to the bricks and mortar involved in two new fire stations, we also have purchased a 75-foot aerial ladder truck at a cost of $677,000 to replace a 20-year-old truck. This year we will purchase a 57-foot ladder truck at a cost of $581,000 to replace a 1997 truck.
And we added 19 firefighters in late 2016, 15 of which were new positions needed to staff Station 11 and four others to cover promotions and staff growth.
Of course, our Clarksville Police Department is an essential element of how we ensure a safe city, making it a place where people can do business and raise healthy families.
Clarksville PD achieved a crime rate of 93 crimes per 1,000 population in 2015 — the lowest crime rate in the State among cities with a population of 100,000 citizens or greater. (These statistics will be formally released by the TBI later in 2017.)
City Government also has invested deeply in bricks and mortar and equipment for our Police Department. We built and opened a new District One/North Precinct Headquarters last January. This is the first new building dedicated solely to Police Operations ever in the history of Clarksville.
In July, the police department achieved its third Certificate of Accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in recognition of CPD’s “commitment to professional excellence in policy and practice.”
And, in a testament to quality performance, the department was awarded first place in the in the Governor’s Highway Safety Office Law Enforcement Challenge.
PRIORITY 2 — ROADS AND TRANSPORTATION
After keeping our residents safe from fire and crime, another important issue facing Clarksville City Government is streets, roads, highways and transportation. Certainly, these are probably the most discussed topics among residents and business owners.
Roads, like most of our big issues in Clarksville, come to the forefront because of our rapid growth. More people mean more vehicles, more congestion and more stress on our roads and streets.
Estimates released recently from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show Clarksville’s population at right at 150,000. This growth reflects an 11.6 percent increase over the past five years.
Clarksville’s Street Department works hard to develop a better transportation network, stretch our available funding, improve safety and reduce congestion. And my budgets have consistently increased the amount of money devoted to road construction and maintenance.
Here are the key points to remember as we consider Clarksville’s road needs:
1) Clarksville’s main thoroughfares and connectors are state highways, which
3) The City has employed creative strategies to speed up state approvals and funding on critical roadways, such as adding city funding to projects.
5) The City has established a road fund for these needs by redirecting a small slice of sales-tax revenues.
This fund gives the city a pool of money to use in negotiations with the state to work with us on special needs, especially our most critically congested areas. We have used this strategy to prioritize widening work on Warfield Boulevard, from Stokes Road to Dunbar Cave Road, an important route which has seen dramatic increases in congestion around Ted Crozier Boulevard.
We also are using this strategy to speed up $9.1 million of work for solutions on Rossview Road, also known as State Route 237, near the Rossview schools campus.
We also have five state-related projects that involve the important southern route connecting Interstate 24 to Downtown via SR76/MLK Parkway and the Bypass. Our City Street Department is devoting a lot of attention to upgrade and improve this critical route.
Early in my tenure, we had to spend millions of dollars on sidewalks to fulfill a prior federal court ruling requiring compliance with ADA standards. Last year, and again this year, with those needs behind us, we were finally able to add money to our operating budget to construct new sidewalks, the first since the sidewalk was passed.
Thus the first new sidewalks, at a cost of $500,000 were built in 2015-16. And this year 2016-17 we were able to add another $750,000 for sidewalks to be built under the city’s Sidewalk Matrix, which passed by the City Council way back in 2004-05. A related requirement for sidewalks to be built by developers in new subdivisions was added in 2006.
In another example of needs caused by our population growth, the City Street Department is devoting a lot of attention to our fast growing Northeast quadrant of the city near Exit 1.
City is using local funding to plan/design new thoroughfares – the NE Connector is the best example – to add capacity.
We have spent $400,000 for planning and design of the Northeast Connector, a city road to be built independent of TDOT, that will connect Wilma Rudolph Boulevard with Tiny Town Road and provide some relief to Trenton Road, a state road that is overburdened with traffic.
The Connector’s purpose is to relieve traffic congestion on several roads, including Trenton Road, Interstate 24 intetchanges at Exit 1 and Exit 4, and on Needmore Road and the 10st Airborne Parkway.
We are also allocating money to design a new city road, under the working title of the Professional Park Connection, which would connect Rossview Road and Exit 8 to the large and growing professional office area around Dunlop Lane and Tennova Hospital.
PRIORITY 3 — QUALITY OF LIFE INITIATIVES
Investment in a top-flight City of Clarksville Parks & Recreation Department is a key part of our strategy of essential services.
I hope you all have heard that Clarksville has earned the designation as a Healthier Tennessee Community for strong collaborative work to improve the health of local citizens.
This is a Big Deal! And I am very proud that the City of Clarksville has led a successful community wide effort to improve health and fitness.
The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness bestowed this designation through its Healthier Tennessee Communities initiative, which drives better health by engaging local leaders and citizens to support physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco abstinence.
The Mayor’s Fitness Council, which I established my first year in office, which joined with other agencies to develop events and activities.
This was a great team effort by the City of Clarksville, our County Health Department, our public schools, Austin Peay State University and UT Extension. This designation shows that our work building a healthier Clarksville is showing strong results.
Governor Bill Haslam and the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness will celebrate Clarksville’s designation at a Nashville reception later this month.
PARKS & RECREATION LEADS THE WAY
In true “walk the talk” fashion, the Clarksville Parks & Recreation Department demonstrated the city’s commitment to building a healthier and more successful community.
As a precursor to the Healthier Community award the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness named our Parks & Recreation Department a Healthier Tennessee Workplace for encouraging /employees to live a healthy lifestyle – both at work and at home.
We’re serious about creating a healthier community. For me, that means gearing up at City Hall, where we’ve set a good example with workplace programs that encourage better health and fitness for all of our employees.
For example, the city’s Human Resources Department, with Council approval, has installed a wellness plan as part of its health insurance benefits that provides incentives for workers to complete a health risk assessment and then take steps to reach and maintain key health benchmarks. The city also provides an in-house health clinic and a fitness center, and ensures a tobacco-free work environment.
The city’s award-winning Parks & Recreation Department is a really our quality of life and “things to do” powerhouse. The operating budget of our Parks Department averages about $7 million a year, which provides for planning and execution of big events like RiverFest, a three-day festival; and countless programs and services in our parks and our recreation centers. This includes things like Movies in the Park; organized canoe and kayak trips on the Red River; youth athletic leagues; organized swimming lessons at our pools.
Capital spending on recreational land and buildings has been extensive. Greenways and trails have been a priority, with nearly $3 million investment in recent years. Completion of the greenways network to connect North Clarksville with downtown continues, with an active grant request in the works.
In other accomplishments for 2016, the City Parks & Recreation Department:
I think you all would agree that that is a truly impressive list of accomplishments! But you can expect another great year from our City Parks Department, with these initiatives coming in 2017:
And a really significant addition:
As I also mentioned earlier, the office along with our Military Liaison Office also helped bring more affordable housing to Clarksville for our large number of military Veterans. The Development Office negotiated for a major $300,000 private donation of undeveloped lots and existing veterans housing resources to Buffalo Valley.
The office also provided a number of rehabilitations, reconstructions, and handicap accessibility projects provided for low income homeowners.
Most important, with the recent retirement of the Housing Authority’s Executive Director, we are working with the Housing Authority to make use of the unique tools and powers to take advantage of its redevelopment function.
Probably not many of us in attendance here today use our bus system, but I continue to focus on the needs of all our people. And thousands of Clarksville residents depend daily on our Clarksville Transit Service to get to work, school, shopping and doctor’s appointments. In fact, CTS provided nearly one million distinct rides in 2016, including many trips for disabled citizens in our fleet of Paratransit vans.
To offset costs while improving these services, CTS has secured more than $7 million in grants for the City of Clarksville. Among these, CTS was:
On another vital transportation issue, we worked with TDOT and the Regional Transit Authority, on which I serve as Board Chairman, to build a new Park & Ride facility at Exit 11 to serve RTA commuters to Nashville. An average of 250 riders, many of them state workers, use this service each weekday. So that’s 250 fewer cars on I-24 every day, and that means less pollution and a better quality of life for 250 Clarksvillians who now have a more productive and less expensive trip.
The fiscal health of Clarksville remains strong, thanks to Finance Director Lauri Matta, who leads the Finance Department’s sound fiscal management that ensures healthy reserves, a constant review of operations and vigilance in seeking efficiencies and cost reduction measures.
Fitch and S&P rated utility revenue bond issuances in 2016 as AA- Outlook Stable, stating strong debt service coverage, improved liquidity and stable economic fundamentals as factors for their rating.
The Government Finance Officers Association awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the City of Clarksville for its comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ended June 30th, 2015.
GAS & WATER
Our municipal utility services are a very important part of the city’s overall mission of service.
Our Gas and Water Department implemented a new mobile work order system that enables Field Service Representatives to use smartphones and tablets to receive and complete work orders more quickly and efficiently.
Gas and Water also added new state-of the-art water meter accuracy testing equipment. The department can now conduct in-house tests of residential, commercial and industrial water meters for accuracy, dependability and life expectancy.
Looking ahead, extensive reconstruction of our Wastewater Treatment Plant, damaged in the 2010 flood, is on target for completion in the spring of 2017. Clarksville is still working with FEMA to secure any federal funds available to help offset the cost.
Clarksville enjoys a large and highly ranked electric power utility, that also has had the foresight to build out a state of the art fiber network with connectivity that allows CDE Lightband to offer high-speed Internet, phone and cable TV services.
In 2016, CDE opened a major facility upgrade at its Wilma Rudolph Boulevard headquarters. The utility added a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Center (SCADA), which is the nerve center of CDE Lightband’s electric power delivery system. Using its fiber optic network, the utility is able to monitor the system in real-time, diagnose outages, redirect the flow of power and direct repairs.
The construction project also added three new drive-thru customer service lanes and a full-service touch-screen kiosk.
BUILDING & CODES DEPARTMENT and REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION
Much of Clarksville’s dramatic growth flows from effective management provided by the city Building and Codes Department and at the Regional Planning Commission.
Clarksville continues to enjoy a strong construction industry and is one of the top producers in the State, with 2016 housing starts surpassing 2015 totals. Indicators predict a strong 2017.
A surge in senior housing continues, with two independent-living facilities and one assisted living facility is in progress, with a combined value of approximately $19 million.
We are also fortunate to have a new Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility off of Weatherly Drive and Ted Crozier Boulevard; this is a 40,000 square foot office providing health care services to veterans.
The REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION has been busy implementing a Common Design Review Board, which streamlines the development review process and brings consistency to decisions.
The Regional Planning Commission plans a busy 2017, with plans to begin a five-year update of the federally-mandated Metropolitan Transportation Plan, and possible amendments to the zoning ordinances to encourage residential and commercial reinvestment in Downtown Clarksville and abutting neighborhoods.
CIVICS LESSON 101
Now, if you will, indulge me a few moments to discuss some aspects of our city governmental structure. The City of Clarksville was founded as a town in 1784 and incorporated in 1807 primarily because its citizens decided they wanted expanded services – things like a City police department, and City sewer and water systems, and city parks.
The City is empowered to levy a property tax on property located within its boundaries as a means to pay for these expanded services. Clarksville is the only incorporated City within Montgomery County, and is the leader in terms of population and economic activity.
U.S. Census estimates for 2015 show the City of Clarksville has nearly 150,000 residents, or about 77 % of the population of Montgomery County. Clarksville has 76 % of the businesses in the County, which account for an overwhelming 92.3 % of retail sales.
The City has its own “Constitution” known as the City Charter, formed under a Private Act of the General Assembly which gives an array of special powers to allow it to serve its citizens with the extra governmental functions and services citizens have said they want.
The City provides a full range of municipal services including fire and police protection; streets and infrastructure maintenance and improvements, recreation and cultural activities; housing and community development; general administrative services and a municipal court system. It also operates a natural gas utility, a water quality program and wastewater system for residents and other communities outside the City limits and an electric utility.
Our system of sales and property taxes is designed so the City collects a separate set of taxes to accomplish those extra services and programs that residents long ago decided they wanted from their City.
VISION AND STRATEGY FOR OUR FUTURE
In conclusion, let’s discuss downtown development. Let me assure you that I want downtown to be more vibrant, and I have championed a sound redevelopment strategy for our city’s core. What downtown needs most are jobs, economic activity and an increased number of people, including residents.
The central feature of my downtown redevelopment strategy is business development that brings more jobs and a Performing Arts and Conference Center. Downtown needs this new feature that provides an economic engine – a center that consistently brings people downtown for entertainment events, and gets them to visit restaurants and shops, which supply jobs and economic activity.
I was taught a long time ago by the late former Governor Ned McWherter that in government “you must plan your work and work your plan.”
That’s why the center we propose has been extensively studied and planned, and that’s why we are commissioning the fifth and final phase of the planning.
Our study shows the center we propose will bring people downtown more than 200 times a year, for theatrical performances, family oriented shows and music concerts. It will also provide much-needed community spaces for meetings and gatherings, such as proms and reunions.
This is the right vision for downtown. Something that provides activity, commerce and sustained, repeat visits. Reliable, professional research backs up these conclusions.
The Performing Arts and Conference Center I’ve proposed is the right feature to add to jump start revival of jobs, commerce and residential growth downtown.
FAMILY ATHLETIC COMPLEX
I also have another big project that we have been working on for several years — a family-oriented Athletic Complex – that remains in the mix and a project that I still believe is the right amenity to add to our community.
This Family Athletic Complex has been studied extensively. The experts working on this plan recommended a site near Exit 8. It could eventually feature a championship stadium, competition and practice fields and youth fields – all things that provide robust opportunities for our high concentration of young, active families. It also has the opportunity to provide a public/private partnership with the Nashville Predators for an ice rink.
I know this is a project that Clarksville needs and the kind of forward-thinking amenity most Clarksville residents want.
These two projects serve our citizens’ needs, plus provide the right kind of economic development that will add opportunity for downtown revitalization and private sector success. A Performing Arts and Conference Center will boost retail and restaurants downtown, and the Athletic Complex will enable major tournaments, public/private partnerships which will boost tourism and visitor spending.
So, what does it take to get this vision into action.
Money has been appropriated in previous budgets to evaluate the feasibility, desirability and “do-ability” of these projects. We already have invested an appropriate amount of money to learn these projects are viable.
Last year my proposed budget included additional capital project funding for both of these projects to begin the capital acquisition of land to move forward.
However, the City Council rejected money to continue these projects as I proposed – projects that had seen substantial city investment in study and planning.
I still believe these are essential community and economic development initiatives, needed for a brighter future for Clarksville, and I will continue to champion them.
Remember as we go forward that government provides the essentials, the things only governments can do, like good, safe roads and well-trained public safety personnel. We provide reliable utilities and invite new businesses to invest in our community. We also must look out for our community’s future, as we work to make it better and keep it attractive for businesses and residents in the future.
We also must provide opportunities for citizens to grow and prosper and be more healthy, happy and productive.
Thank you for being here today, and for your attention. I appreciate your support, and I ask all of you to join me in doing all we can to make Clarksville the best place to live, work and raise our families.
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