Written by Brian Zacharias
Clarksville City Council – Ward 1
Clarksville, TN – First, let me apologize for the extended time between newsletters. With budget season upon us, I wanted to make sure I was not flooding inboxes with updates.
On Thursday, June 2nd, the Clarksville City Council met for its monthly regular voting session. The votes tracker is updated with links to each of the ordinances and resolutions that were on the agenda.
For rezoning applications, this includes a map of the area as well as comments from the relevant city departments. As always, I welcome your feedback!
June 2nd Regular Session
This was a long meeting with lot that I want to share. In addition to a heavy load of rezoning applications, there were a couple issues that deserve special attention.
, and 130-2021-22
were all applications that would have brought additional residential density to the Rossview school district. As I have explained before, all three schools in the Rossview School Complex are over 100% capacity (CMCSS target is 85%) and there are already 30 portables on site. In my opinion, it is irresponsible to keep adding students to a building that was not designed to accommodate them. The forthcoming Kirkwood School Complex will alleviate some of these overcrowding issues, but I will continue to oppose zoning applications in this part of town until our education infrastructure can support them. All of these ordinances passed first reading, with the exception of 123-2021-22.
, and 136-2021-22
were all applications that would have brought additional traffic to Needmore Road. All three of these applications were met with fierce resistance from neighboring property owners who showed up in force to speak out against them. I have been very vocal in my opposition to adding more homes to Needmore Road until the infrastructure improvement projects in the Transportation 2020 plan have been completed. Ordinance 136-2021-22 passed while the other two failed. I firmly believe that it was the people that showed up and spoke out against the proposed zone changes that convinced the council to vote down two of the three applications. I cannot stress this enough: please come to meetings and speak up if you feel strongly about an ordinance, whether you are for or against it. If it is a matter of finding transportation, let me know! I will do everything in my power to get you to a meeting so you can be heard. Emails to the council are important, but there is no substitute for your presence and we saw that on Thursday. Your participation in local government is more important than ever because.
passed first reading! This ordinance will put the question of whether the City of Clarksville should adopt a home rule charter to its citizens. When this ordinance came through the Finance Committee, I opposed it based on the timeline it would have created. As it was originally written, the ordinance would have added the question to the ballot in the November 2022 general election. I proposed an amended ordinance that moved the question to the 2024 election to give the people of Clarksville more time to understand the ramifications and make informed decisions. The amended ordinance was accepted and passed first reading. If the amendment passes second reading in July, the voters will make the final decision about adopting a home rule charter in November 2024.
I’ve asked several people what they think about the idea of a home rule charter and I’ve read quite a few comments on social media. One thing is clear: if you want 10 different explanations of what it means, all you have to do is ask 10 different people. My plan is to dedicate a portion of future newsletters to information about home rule so the voters of Ward 1 can cast an informed vote, whether I am your representative after this year’s election or not (although I certainly hope to be!).
If this ordinance passes second reading at the July regular session it will be up to the voters, not the city council, to determine whether the pros outweigh the cons. My amendment and support of this ordinance should not be interpreted as an endorcement of home rule, but rather a reflection of my belief that it should be left up to the citizens of Clarksville to decide.
I am not going to ask you to take a position either for or against home rule if/when it appears on the ballot, but I am going to do everything I can to get you the information you need to make your own decision. If you have any specific questions, please reach out to me using the contact information at the bottom of this newsletter. If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone who does!
City Budget for Fiscal Year 2023
The Mayor has submitted his proposed budget for the next fiscal year and on June 9th, the city council will meet at 4:30pm for public hearing and first reading. I want to share some highlights from the mayor’s comments regarding the budget:
- There is no proposed property tax increase in this year’s budget
- The city is taking necessary steps to recruit and retain employees by incorporating a general wage increase to remain competitive with not only the private sector but also other local governments. The wage increase does not apply to elected officials.
- The budget includes the creation of additional Police and Fire Rescue hires, though the city is still below its target manning in these public safety positions.
- The budget also includes the creation of a new position to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workforce. Previously, this role has been filled by other employees as an additional duty.
Though the budget is not yet finalized, I believe it does a good job targeting some very real needs in our community. There will undoubtedly be changes as we go through the public hearing process and first and second readings.
One change that I hope to see in the final version is the inclusion of funds for a project that will address concerns shared by parents in the wake of CMCSS’s recently-expanded Parent Responsibility Zone. I plan to propose an amendment to the budget that will redirect funds to a new project that will provide safe walkways for students to use to and from school.
City of Clarksville 2023 Budget
Comprehensive Plan Community Questionnaire
The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) wants to hear from you! This is your opportunity to influence the future of our city. The RPC is in the process of creating a Comprehensive Plan for future growth and development of Clarksville.
The Comprehensive Plan will outline the existing conditions of Clarksville-Montgomery County, describe future goals and objectives for development, and include an action plan on how to achieve these goals and objectives. Please take the time to fill out this survey!
Comprehensive Plan Questionaire
The Ward 1 election cycle falls during mid-term elections, which historically seels lower voter turn-out than elections where people have the opportunity to vote for the president. The last time the residents of Ward 1 voted for their city council representative, 956 voters chose the representative for a ward of almost 12,000 residents.
Going to the polls on Election Day is the only way to guarantee you have a voice in choosing your representative. Since our last election, the nation has conducted its 10-year census and our city’s ward boundaries have been redrawn to account for shifts in population. As a result, many residents may find themselves in a different city ward, or school board, county, or state district. It is important that everyone who intends to vote in primary or general elections ensures they are registered to vote.
The State of Tennessee has made it very easy to register to vote online, either through its GoVote TN website or through the GoVoteTN app on your smartphone. Click the button below to visit the GoVoteTN webside, or search Apple’s App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android) for the GoVoteTN app. The process takes less than 10 minutes and guarantees your voice is heard in upcoming elections!
Schedule an Appointment
I want to hear from you. My phone number and email address are public, but I am learning that there are times when a face-to-face meeting would be more appropriate, depending on the issue. If you would like to discuss an issue facing Ward 1 or Clarksville in general, please use the form linked below and we can schedule a meeting. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible!
Schedule a Meeting
Past and Future Votes
Transparency in government, especially local government, is extremely important to me. At any time, anyone can click the ‘Votes’ button to see my complete voting history as well as ordinances and resolutions on the City Council’s agenda for consideration in upcoming meetings.
What Has Your Councilman Been Doing?
May 5th – City Council Regular Session
May 9th – Finance Committee Budget Overview Meeting
May 13th – Neighborhood and Community Services Budget Meeting
May 26th – City Council Executive Session
May 31st – Finance Committee Meeting
June 1st – Common Ground Cafe Ribbon Cutting
June 2nd – Special Session – Budget Overview
June 2nd – City Council Regular Session
What Is Your Councilman Going To Be Doing?
June 9th – Public Hearing and First Reading of Budget
June 11th – Habitat for Humanity Home Dedication
June 14th – Second Reading of Budget
June 28th – Finance Committee Meeting
June 30th – City Council Executive Session