BMA in Brief – August 26, 2019

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

The documents provided to the Aldermen ahead of the meeting are available by clicking here.

The YouTube steam is available by clicking here. The stream started late and picks up in the middle of Alderman liaison reports. The full meeting is available on the city’s web page.

9. Preliminary Agenda (3:36) – Passed (4-1)

10. Ordinance No. 2019-13 Amdment to Subdivision Ordinance Chapter 17 – Section 17-56 (Streets) – Third & Final Reading – This amendment will bring the subdivision ordinance in line with the recently passed fire codes. This includes restrictions of dead end street length and cul-du-sac diameter requirements. (Postponed)

11. Professional Services Agreement – FY20 On Call Engineering Services (5:12) The proposed agreement with Kimberly-Horn & Associates for $65K. These services supplement the efforts of City Engineering Staff. KHA provides support for Traffic and Transportation Planning and Design. Approved (4-1)

BMA in Brief – June 24, 2019

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

The supporting documents provided to the alderman can be found by clicking here.

The video for this meeting can be found on YouTube by clicking here. Technical difficulties resulted in the YouTube video cutting off shortly after the FY20 budget discussion was completed. The full stream of this meeting can be watched on the city’s web page by following this link. The meeting run time was 2 hours and 57 minutes.

In executive session the agenda was amended to move items a. and j. to the regular agenda. Item 20 was moved to the preliminary agenda.

6. Citizens to be Heard (15:04) Three citizens came forward to address the board. One on the recent flood and the potential purchase of Germantown Country Club, one on Germantown Helps and the final was a representative from Sen. Brian Kelsey’s office speaking to his efforts to get flood assistance from the State.

9. Beer Board (30:21) Permit to allow sale of beer for on-premise consumption at Tandem Restaurant. Approved (5-0)

10. Warrant – Thornwood Phase 5 (Moondance patio) (34:00) The proposal is for a warrant to allow Moondance to install a four season patio on the south east side of their restaurant in the Thornwood development. This area was previously approved for a pergola covered seating area. The proposed patio would be heated and air conditioned and allow for open air dining when temperatures permit. The warrant was Approved (3-2).

11. Ordinance 2019-10 Rezoning 15 Acres Fulmer Property – Second Reading and Public hearing (38:45) In the public hearing two citizens spoke of concerns with the proposed office development being adjacent to residential neighborhoods. The concept plan for the zoning approval includes three medical office buildings. The developer answered questions from the aldermen and continued to work with neighbors to address concerns. The second reading Passed (5-0)

12. Contract Professional Services Agreement Fire Station No 3. (1:04:24) This is approval for a contract with A2H for initial design services for the replacement of the 42 year old Fire Station No. 3 on Farmington Blvd. The $117,852 contract will cover work to identify potential locations and design costs for the replacement station. The contract was Approved (5-0)

13. Ordinance 2019-1 – Ordinance to Adopt FY20 Budget – Third Reading (1:07:39) The board reviewed the FY20 budget. Salaries were discussed including the Personnel Advisory Commission’s recommendation of a 3% market adjustment to salaries. While the budget did not include a raise for the city administrator, Alderman Sanders moved that the salary of the city administrator not be changed without a majority vote of the board. The motion also capped the Police Chief’s salary increase at 3%. That motion was approved. A second motion by Alderman Sanders was made to cap the director level positions increase at 3%. That motion failed. Alderman Massey expressed desire to have someone make to increase funding for drainage programs but never made the motion himself. Following extensive discussion.  Approved (4-1)

14. Ordinance 2019-2 – Year End Budget Adjustments – Third Reading – This ordinance makes the final adjustments needed to close out the city’s FY19 Budget. The detailed list of adjustments can be found in the above link to the Alderman’s Packets. Approved (5-0)

15. Ordinance 2019-3 Real and Personal Property Taxes – Third Reading – This ordinance establishes the property tax rate for the city for FY20. The rate is unchanged from FY19 and remains $1.95. Approved (4-1)

16. Ordinance 2019-4 GMSD Year End Budget Adjustments – Third Reading – The detailed list of budget adjustments proposed to close out the FY19 Budget.  The detail list is included in the supporting documents in the link above.  These adjustments have been approved by the GMSD Board of Education. Approved (5-0)

17. 19R01 – Resolution on Revenues – This resolution establishes rates, fines and fees for enterprise and special revenue funds. Approved (5-0)

18. 19R02 Resolution Capital Improvements Program – Section one of the resolution identifies funding sources for projects and section two identifies the proposed projects. There was some discussion about spending allocation to drainage projects. Approved (4-1)

19. Contract Extension no. 2 Library Services – The extension of a 2015 agreement with LSS. Administration proposed executing a one year option (one of three one year extensions for this contract).  There was no discussion. Approved (5-0)

20. Agreement – Parliamentarian – Following a six month trial period of with the Parliamentarian (Dr. Schultz) a one year contract was proposed.  The hourly rate is $150/hour with a limit of $10K per year with three one year extension options.  Approved (3-2)

21. Purchase – Repair to Wells No. 2 & 6 Johnson Rd. Plant, High Service Pump no. 3 – Durring annual inspection processes these three pumps were designated to be pulled for inspections.  During those inspections it was determined that maintenance was needed. Three pumps were pulled one pump was approved for repair however, the vendor proceeded to repair all three wells/pumps which exceeded approval thresholds for this work. Immediately work was stopped and the approval brought before the board.  Approved (3-2)

22. Preliminary Agenda – The amended preliminary agenda was summarized, motioned and seconded. There was no discussion. Approved (5-0)

BMA in Brief June 10, 2019

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

The agenda packets provided to the Aldermen can be found by clicking here.

The full video of the meeting can be found on YouTube by clicking here.

Flood Update from Germantown Fire Department Chief John Selberg. (6:30)

6. Citizens to be Heard (15:52) There were a total of seven citizens that stepped up to speak. One spoke on sales tax, five spoke about the flood and one spoke about the flood and lack of cell coverage in the affected area.

9. Preliminary Agenda (41:40)Alderman Massey proposed moving items b. and c. to the regular agenda. Both failed and the the preliminary agenda was approved as proposed. The preliminary agenda was Approved (4-1)

10. Ordinance 2019-1 Adoption of FY2020 Budget Second Reading and Public Hearing (44:03)The Chairman of the Financial Advisory Commission (FAC) read a short statement into the record to document the work done by this group in helping to oversee the development of the FY20 budget. In the public hearing one member of the Financial Advisory Commission came forward to discuss the Germantown Country Club.  Approved (4-1)

11. Ordinance 2019-2 Year End Budget Adjustments Second Reading and Public Hearing (2:03:34) The public hearing did not have anyone from the community come forward to make statements on this item. An extensive list of adjustments was presented to account for changes during the year. The detailed list can be reviewed by in the Aldermen’s packets. When reviewing this list note that the changes is the total in the “Proposed Adjustment” column of the document. Approved (5-0)

12. Ordinance 2019-3 Real and Personal Property Taxes Second Reading and Public Hearing (2:17:23) – The public hearing did not have anyone from the community come forward to make a statement on this item. This Ordinance sets the 2020 tax rate at $1.95, no change from the FY19 rate. Approved (4-1)

13. Ordinance 2019-4 GMSD Year-End Budget Adjustments – Second Reading and Public Hearing (2:20:17) – The public hearing did not have anyone from the community come forward to make a statement on this item. A list of the pr Approved (5-0)

14. Ordinance 2019-12 Amendment to Fire Prevention Ordinance Chapter 10 First Reading (2:22:53)The ordinance to adopt a new fire code based on the 2015 international fire code. The state of TN currently uses the 2012 international fire code.  The proposed code added requirements for sprinklers on dead end streets over 750 feet.  There are also additional items to address safety of food trucks. It includes the ability for the BMA to establish a board of appeals for rulings of the Fire Marshal.  Approved (5-0)

15. Ordinance 2019-12 Amendment to Fire Prevention Ordinance Chapter 10 – Residential Sprinklers – First Reading (2:29:27) – This item supports the adoption of the 2015 fire code.  The code requires sprinklers for new homes over 5,000 square feet vs. the current requirement of 7,500 square feet. It would require sprinkler systems in zero lot line homes with distances of less than 20 feet between homes. Approved (5-0)

16.Ordinance 2019-13 – Amendment to Subdivision Ordinance Chapter 17 Section 17-56 (Streets) First Reading (2:34:32) This amendment brings the subdivision ordinance in line with the requirements laid out in the fire ordinances above.  That includes requirements for cul-de-sac diameters as well as dead end street restrictions. Approved (5-0)

BMA in Brief May 13, 2019

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

The supporting documents provided to the Alderman for this meeting can be found by clicking here.

A video of the full meeting can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.

Budget Work Session 5/8/19: In preparation for the proposal of the FY20 Budget a public  work session was held on 5/8/19. The budget was reviewed in about an hour and twenty minutes. All of the department heads were present to answer questions however, there were only a few. Those questions included the impact of the $2.5M grant to GPAC and questions about expense in the special revenue drug fund. The City Administrator identified budget amendments that will need to be made based on the GPAC grant and FAC recommendation for school security funding.

6. Citizens to Be Heard – (7:51) Two spoke in favor of GCC Purchase. Fourteen residents spoke against the cell phone tower citing health, environmental and property value impacts, one person spoke in favor of the cell phone tower.

Note: Alderman Massey was not present for the Executive Session or BMA meeting. No notice was given as to the reason for the absence.

9. Preliminary Agenda – (1:20:21) Reviewed in executive session and questions were asked and answered. No adjustments were made or proposed and the Preliminary Agenda was approved (4-0)

10. Contract – Germantown Athletic Club Renovations Phase IV – (1:22:10) Phase IV is the addition of a Mezzanine and sitting area for a cafe. It will include a rework of the entry and check in desk. There will be additional activity space in the lower level. The funds for these improvements come from the dues generated by members and not from tax revenues. This phase totals $1,412,493. Passed (4-0)

11. Supplement No. 6 – Germantown Athletic Club Renovations Phase IV CEI – (1:29:29) This item is for the approval of the contract administration and construction inspections. This fee is $29,500 for Phase IV and brings the total for all the phases of this project to $415,000. Passed (4-0)

12. Ordinance No. 2019-1 – Ordinance to Adopt the FY20 Budget – First Reading – (1:32:14) The proposed budget is for $58.9M for the General fund and $22.5M of Capital improvements. The proposed budget does not include any impacts for the potential purchase of the Germantown Country Club. The purchase impact is unknown and would be added as an amendment when additional details would be finalized. A fifteen page summary of the budget is presented as the Ordinance which can be found by clicking here. Monday, June 10, 2019 will be set as the public hearing for the budget. Amendments to the budget were made based on the feedback for the FAC related to school security. The funds will be targeted via grants and if not successful the FAC recommends provided funds in the FY21 budget to pay in July 2020 to meet security upgrades. Additional amendments were made to funding related to GPAC to account for the $2.5M grant from the state of Tennessee. Passed (4-0)

13. Ordinance No. 2019-2 – Year-End Budget Adjustments – First Reading – (2:18:25) An extensive list of adjustments was presented to account for changes during the year. The detailed list can be reviewed by clicking here. When reviewing this list note that the changes is the total in the “Proposed Adjustment” column of the document. Second reading and public hearing will be held on June 10, 2019. Passed (4-0)

14. Ordinance No. 2019-3 – Real and Personal Property Taxes – First Reading – (2:33:08) This Ordinance sets the 2020 tax rate at $1.95, no change from the FY19 rate. A second reading and public hearing will be held on June 10, 2019. Passed (4-0)

15. Ordinance No. 2019-4 – Germantown Municipal School District Year-End Budget Adjustments – First Reading – (2:35:12) Similar to the BMA, GMSD must amend their budget for actual spending that hits throughout the year. A 31 page summary of the changes can be found by clicking here. A second reading and public hearing will be held on June 10, 2019. Passed (4-0)

16. Ordinance No. 2019-10 – Rezoning of a 15.229 Acre Portion of the Fulmer Property (South Side of Wolf River Blvd.) from “R” to “O” Office Zoning – First Reading – (2:38:30) This item is the rezoning of 15 acres of the 190 of the land known as Fulmer Farms. The section of land in question borders Wolf River Parkway with the Vineyard subdivision on the western border. The purpose of the proposed property is for medical office space which is consistent with the use of other land along this section of Wolf River. Concept site plans can be reviewed by clicking here. A second reading and public hearing will be held on June 10, 2019. Passed (4-0)

BMA in Brief (Board Retreat) – February 23, 2019

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

The BMA meet for a retreat session in the Economic and Community Development building on Saturday, February 23. No votes were taken and the meeting was not streamed via the usual methods. The meeting ran the full four hours.

Water Tower Discussion – Public Works Director Bo Mills and Assistant Director Andy Sanders gave a presentation about the need for an additional water tower. The discussion centered around the lack of a back up for the current water tower. Several risks associated with the lack of a back up tower included lack of fire support, air in the water mains causing damage to city and residential plumbing, and health risk associated with air bringing bacteria into the system. Sites were discussed including the new school and Forest Hill Irene south of Winchester. Alternatives were also discussed including an underground pumping system. We will write a separate blog post covering the details of this topic.

Sales Tax Issues – Discussion revolved around the state’s allocation of sales tax revenues. Issues were raised about the allocation of taxes collected via internet sales. The Tennessee Municipal League, a group of municipalities that advocate together at the state level, has submitted legislation to address the concerns of cities like Germantown. Germantown actually worked on similar legislation in prior years but lacked broader support across the state to see it approved. This will be a key item in the city’s legislative agenda in Nashville this year.

Legal Update – This was a closed door session for city officials only. The media and community members were required to step out of the room and remove their cameras.

Germantown Country Club – Parks and Recreation Director Pam Beasley gave a summary of the discussion held by the team that pulled together the Parks Master Plan. They met a couple of weeks ago to discuss the desire of the community to purchase the land and potential uses for the land. The group recommended purchase of the land however, potential uses would be decided after the purchase. The city has ordered an appraisal of the land and plans to respond to an RFP (Request for Proposal or Bid process) from the trustee of the land. This process will happen quickly over the next month or two. The city’s capacity to issue debt to purchase this land was also discussed. The Parks and Recreation Commission and Financial Advisory Commission will meet to address concerns in the coming weeks.

CIP & School Projects – The city has requested departments provide their proposed projects for the FY20 budget. There are 42 projects that have been submitted as part of this process and they will be prioritized in coming budget discussion. There is a work session scheduled for CIP (Capital Improvement Program) on March 27. There are several projects on the CIP list that will be dependent on prioritization by the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization). The MPO is the local government organization that prioritizes Federal funds for municipal project.  As we reported earlier the city has made its list of requests for State and Federal funding and should receive the approved list in late May or June. The initial FY20 request for school projects total $7.2M including an expansion to Houston Middle School. The cost for the expansion at HMS were originally estimated to be $5M but need to be updated as construction costs have increased since the project was first put on the 5 year CIP plan. The city is also funding $200K per year for the next 5 years for the Houston High Field House. Other GMSD requests for FY20 include another $500K for security upgrades ($500K was spent in FY19) and $1.5M for boiler upgrades to Riverdale. To facilitate alignment Jason Huisman, the Assistant City Administrator, sits on the facilities committee for GMSD. The city is working with GMSD to build out their 5 year CIP needs and make sure the budget includes their requests.

Rules of Engagement – The only discussion on this topic was the mention of an orientation session with the new Parliamentarian, which will be on Monday before the BMA meeting.

Moratorium Update – This update was brief as it began with about 20 minutes left in the four hour session. No results were presented. Staff discussed that the focus had been on four major areas: Schools, Public Safety, Fire/EMS and Infrastructure/Transportation Systems. The city has gathered a lot of data and is working to process it into impact by district, not just an all up city level. Legal Counsel advised the Aldermen that any actions taken should be in line with or supported by the data. The Attorney cited that courts recently held that Covington’s apartment moratorium violated the Fair Housing Act as it wasn’t supported by the type of analysis currently being done by Germantown. Staff stated that the goal is to present the results from the study in April or May.

Tuition Discussion Tabled

During the work session on January 15, 2019, the Germantown Board of Education reviewed a presentation from the Superintendent Jason Manuel regarding the impact of requiring tuition in the school year 2019-20. The board discussed the many questions that have arisen and concluded that more study was needed. Therefore, the policy change was tabled.

Graphic of Current Transfer Students by School

It was revealed during discussion that the policy change was not brought by the superintendent but by Chairman Rebecca Luter at the request of Board Member Amy Eoff.

Concerns about the timing and pending open enrollment as well as the recruitment for students in the academies lead to the agreement to delay until September when they can review new enrollment numbers based on population at the new school, Forest Hill Elementary and new transfer policy. The analysis presented at this meeting by Jason Manuel was by his own admission incomplete and lacked a full understanding of programmatic impacts.

Lines 11 through 16 as seen in the graphic below were removed from the proposed changes and it was noted that returns the policy to the original wording.

GMSD Tuition: Good Idea?

I have seen a lot of comments along the lines of “Pay your fair share” in the brief but intense discussion about the proposal to charge tuition for GMSD. Sounds like a reasonable argument to me. But when you go beyond the surface of that statement it quickly gets a lot more complicated. That is why I am asking for the Board of Education to postpone a vote on this subject until we see a solid analysis of the potential impact.

Let me show you where my questions arise. Contrary to popular belief, the City of Germantown does not provide the majority of funding for the district. In the FY19 budget, only 4.2% of GMSD’s revenues were projected to be from the City of Germantown. Nearly 90% of funding comes from the State and County sources. Did you know that those funding pools are based on student enrollment, to the tune of around $8,500 per student? Every transfer student into the district brings those funds with them.

First and foremost, GMSD is for the education of Germantown Students. Don’t confuse any of my discussions of school finance or transfers to be anything else. My concern is that we offer the best district for our community and to do that we need to make decisions that are financially responsible. We are talking about specific schools where we have some excess capacity. We should never allow transfer population to drive need for an additional facility.

The proposal I have seen is for tuition not to exceed $1,000 per family. Admittedly, I have not had time to do the level of research I would like in order to write about something like this, but given the vote is Tuesday I feel a need to share my concerns. If we charge $1,000 per student, more than 8 students have to sign up to pay that tuition to make up for the lost state and county funding of just one student leaving the system. In other words if more than 12% of transfers opt not to pay the fee and leave GMSD, the district loses money. If you charge a lower tuition fee that number just gets worse. At a $400 tuition level, only 5% can leave before the financial impact is negative.

This math looIMG_7495.jpgks break even at best to me and detrimental at worst. The upside potential is marginal and more analysis is needed to determine if it is worth the risk of losing the State and County revenues associated with these students. We potentially put programs like our Leadership, Fine Arts and Honors academies at risk. From what I am told there are over 200 transfer students in these programs at HHS. If the families of these students are unwilling or unable to pay tuition how will it impact these programs? The students in these academies are also high achieving and required to meet higher academic standards to transfer in.

Is this a good decision? I don’t know. We need more analysis on the financial and programmatic impacts of this proposal. Please join me in asking the board to hold off on approving this until we see a real analysis of all of the potential impacts of approving this proposal.

Additional thoughts on Financial Impacts:

For years I have professionally worked on costing and pricing. If you think back to those high school economics classes, you will remember conversations about fixed and variable costs. For the school district the fixed costs are buildings, administration, utilities and support functions that don’t vary materially based on student population.

The variable costs for the district are basically teachers salaries and other forms of direct student support. My quick analysis (like I said I would like more time to review this) shows that the district’s expenses are roughly 60/40 variable to fixed. The budgeted cost for “Regular Instruction” is $84k per teacher for salaries, wages and benefits. So, just ten transfer students cover the cost of a teacher and while class size varies based on grade, our lowest targeted optimal class size is 18 students for Kindergarten.

If 90% of our funding is tied to student enrollment and we know 60% of our cost is variable, that means each student who transfers in makes a positive contribution to the fixed costs of running our system. These are the funds that help make our academies and extra curricular programs available. Losing these students potentially shifts financial burden to the City of Germantown and your property taxes. If these are decisions we want to make as a community, then we just need to be sure we understand the impact before we cast a vote.

I am concerned that we don’t have the research to understand potential unintended consequences of this decision.