BMA in Brief – April 8, 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.

6. Citizens to be Heard (22:00)CTBH was moved until after the recognition of cheerleading teams but before the Alderman Liaison reports. There were four citizens that addressed the board. One spoke in opposition to the location of a proposed cell phone tower on the campus of Dogwood Elementary. The contract for this project is not yet before the BMA but is anticipated in the next month or so as the construction is targeted for this summer while school is out. Three citizens spoke in support of the city purchasing the Germantown Country Club property.

The “Packets” with supporting documents provided to the Aldermen can be found by clicking here.

9. Consent Agenda (41:52) – Item 9.b. was removed from consent by request of Alderman Massey during Executive Session and was added to the regular agenda as item 17. The remaining items on the Consent Agenda passed with a 5-0 vote.

10. Resolution 19R05 – Establishing a Preliminary Agenda for the City of Germantown (43:38)This resolution establishes a Preliminary Agenda to replace the currently used Consent Agenda. The Preliminary Agenda requires a simple majority to move an item to the Regular Agenda where the Consent Agenda allowed only one alderman to make the request. Passed (3-2)

11. Approval of Warrant – Thornwood Planned Development – Sign Policy (39:28)The current code applied to this area requires that each business apply for a warrant individually with the city to allow for standard signage which is similar to what is permitted in other commercial districts. Passed (4-1)

12. Ordinance 2019-7 Amendment to Subdivision Ordinance – Parkland Dedication – Second Reading & Public Hearing (1:01:39)The amendment changes the wording to address the use of the term “Parks Districts” which the city does not have. The change also allows the Parks Director to review the preliminary plans prior to going to the Parks Commission. The ordinance also addresses the need for Smart Code properties to make land or financial contributions in lieu of park land. In the public hearing, one citizen addressed the board with concerns about the lack of a time limit to spend the funds collected via these fees and spoke in support of a proposed motion to review impacts. In discussion, a motion was made to apply a process for review of the location and potential usage on a case by case basis. City does not use true impact fees, they use negotiated development contracts to account for sewer usage and road items. Questions about whether park dedication is an impact fee. Amendment passes 4-1. There was additional discussion around the change in wording from Parks and Recreation commission to Parks Director and what the impact was to the commission and how the city charter worded the establishment of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Passed (3-2)

13. Ordinance 2019-8 Amendment to Vegetation Ordinance – Tree Preservation & Planting Requirements Second Reading & Public Hearing (1:30:44) The ordinance makes two specific changes. First, it establishes the option of payment in-leiu of tree dedication. Previously, trees would have to be replaced or dedicated on public land. In some cases neither of these options are viable. The funds from these payment should be used for maintenance or replacement of public trees. The second part establishes the option of a cap to the fee. It will be at the discretion of the Design Review Commission and requires a report from an independent arborist, at the applicants expense. The public hearing did not have anyone step forward to address the board on this subject. Passed (4-1)

14. Ordinance 2019-9 Amendment to Chapter 2 Article VI, Division 2 – Purchasing Second Reading & Public Hearing (1:55:20) This Ordinance change updated the amount of approvals for items requiring bids to be in line with state approved limits. The changes will help to streamline the approval process for these services. Section 2-328, the ordinance moves the threshold for requiring competitive sealed bids from $10K to $25K. It also moves the threshold for having three competitive quotes from a range of $4,000-$9,999.99 to a range of $10,000-$24,999. Section 2-331, this change allows the city administrator or Mayor to approve change orders up to $10K vs. the current threshold of $2,500. Section 2-337 raised the limit of bids needed for disposal of assets from $2,500 to $5,000. There was significant discussion around what could be approved under and how many transactions fall into this window. When questioned about visibility of spending for the BMA, staff indicated that only budgeted items could be purchased using this process. That being the case the BMA has visibility to proposed spending in the budget process and reporting on spending made using these approvals will be provided to the BMA. The public hearing did not have anyone step forward to address the board on this subject. Passed (3-2)

15. Change Order – GPAC Grove $5,175.83 (2:40:15) The contract increased to $3,955,219.67 reflecting a 0.13% increase to project. The change is needed to address “unsuitable soils” that have to be made to build the project. An additional change order will come to a future BMA to address additional areas of the site that need work for “unsuitable soils”. Passed (4-1)

16. Supplement 1 – FY19 On-Call Professional Services Agreement – Traffic Engineering (2:55:00)This is an increase to the contract from $50k to $70k or a 40% increase. The workload for budgeted items has been lower than planned however, several unbudgeted projects have resulted in the need for additional funds. Those include an in-depth study on Wolf River school traffic, striping plan for additional road work and preparation of TIP applications for state and federal funding. This firm provides traffic engineering and signal maintenance services for the city. Passed (4-1)

Germantown? There’s an App for That!

At the January 29 Technology Commission it was announced that City would soon be launching the “Germantown on the Go” app. The app is currently available in the App Store for both Apple and Android. The city has been testing the app for the last several months and setting up procedures to address the community feedback expected from the app.

Community feedback? Yes, the app will allow you to interact with the city to address many of the day to day concerns and questions that you see pop up on social media. Who do you call about that pot hole? Well, take a picture of it, tag it on a map and send it to the city. Animal complaints? Tag it on the map, write a note and post a picture. In addition to issues with roads and animals, the app allows you to report issues for Code Enforcement, drainage, traffic and trash.

The app allows easy access to the city calendar, news, contacts and social media posts. This new way to connect to the city gives citizens an easy way to stay informed and address concerns in the palm of their hands. Remember, you can always find more info on the City Web page. Expect to see more from the City in coming weeks as they promote the launch of this new tool.

 

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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.

BMA in Brief – January 28, 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.Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 9.18.11 PM.png

You can watch the entire meeting here. We have noted approximate times for each items for your convenience.

Mayor Palazzolo announced the National Council for Safety and Security in Washington, D.C. rated Germantown as the number one rated safest city in Tennessee. (begins approximately 21:00)

Recap of votes

9. Beer Board – On-premises consumption for Whitlows 7642 Poplar Pike – Approved 4-0 as Alderman Massey recused himself. (Begins approximately 21:45)

10. Consent agenda – Approved 5-0 with the GPAC Theater Seating moved to regular agenda as item 12 and Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Calendar moved from the regular agenda to Consent as item 10.d. (Begins approximately 27:09)

11. Appointment of Boards and Commissions Patrick Lawton, city administrator, explained when the BMA met in December to fill the board and commissions, both the Great Hall Commission and Historic Commission were not complete at that time; therefore, these positions are being brought before the board tonight. (Begins approximately 29:00)

a. Great Hall – Two members, Melanie Oest and John Wagner have reapplied. Alderman Massey is the liaison. He nominated the following: Susanne Riley-Catering, John Wagner-Corporate Business, John Peyton-Marketing, Tony Green-Operations, Lauren Boutwell-Retail, Russ Holland-Sales, and Melanie Oest-Hospitality.

Alderman Rocky Janda made a motion to amend the nominations to John Wagner, Lauren Boutwell, Russ Holland and Melanie Oest.

The amended motion passed 3-2.

b. Historic – There are three vacancies and two who have reapplied-Dale Hicks and Karen Rice. Alderman Massey is the liaison. He nominated the following: Sidney Khun, Marlene Strube and Sara Freeman.

Alderman Owens made a motion to amend the nomination to David Jackson, Dale Hicks, and Karen Rice.

The amendment passed 3-2.

12. Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Calendar – Presentation of the calendar as approved by the Financial Advisory Commission on 1/22/19 – Moved to Consent Agenda.

Item 12 became the GPAC Theater Seating. This item was included in the FY19 budget ($65k) and is the first phase of replacing the 25 year old seats in GPAC. An additional $40k is earmarked for phase 2 in the FY20 budget. Approved 4-1 (begins approximately 51:00)

13. City Attorney Agreement – Changing the current agreement with Burch, Porter & Johnson from a monthly retainer to billable hours.  Presentation by staff indicated that this methodology will allow the city to more accurately allocate costs between departments and potentially reduce costs.  Passed 4-1 (begins approximately 1:04:11)

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BMA in Brief – January 14, 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.

Mayor Mike Palazzolo welcomed new City Attorney Mac McCarroll and new Alderman Scott Sanders to the board.
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During the Executive Session, changes were made to the agenda. Beer Board item 9.a. was pulled by request of the applicant. On Consent Agenda, two items were pulled from Consent. 10.d will become item 11 and 10.e will become item 19.

9. Beer Board – Poplar Food Mart #1 approved for off-premise use and Rock N Roll Sushi approved for on-premise use.

10. Consent Agenda -approved as amended.

11. Professional Services Agreement Supplement No.2 – Final Closeout Right-of-Way Appraisals – Wolf River Boulevard/Germantown Rd. Intersection Improvements Project – Approved 4-1

12. Change Order No. 2 – Forest Hill-Irene Road Improvements – Requested increase of $37,631.33 (total project is $6.15M) for increased cost estimates for fiber optic lines needed for traffic signal connectivity and coordination and culvert replacement under the road near the school site. Original plan was to add on to the existing culvert however there were cracks and open joints that necessitated the full replacement of the culvert. – Approved 5-0

13. Election of Vice Mayor – Mary Anne Gibson selected 5-0

14. Grant – Leadership Germantown – Request for approval of budgeted grant of $13,600 for Leadership Germantown – Approved 4-1

15. Purchase – Fire Engine – Request for $859,539 to purchase a new custom fire engine.  The purchase will allow F139 (Engine 93) to be placed in reserve.  F139 is 28 years old and typical life span for this type of equipment is 15 years front line and 5 years reserve. Approved 5-0

16. Resolution 19R03 – Banking and Signature Cards. Approved 5-0

17. Ordinance 2019-5 – Amendment to Zoning Ordinance Chapter 23 – SmartCode: Site Standards 1st Reading – The proposed change clarifies language in the code about the width of curb cuts.  This change is needed to insure fire equipment can safely access properties. Approved 5-0

18. Ordinance 2019-6 – Amendment to Zoning Ordinance Chapter 23 – Wireless Transmission Facility 1st Reading – Change in wording to allow for stream lined approval of equipment upgrades on existing facilities and establishment of policies and procedures for placement of small cell wireless facilities in public right-of-ways as a result of changes to state law. This item generated discussion on how state law may allow many small cell towers all over the City of Germantown. Approved 4-1

19. Professional Services Agreement Supplement No. 4 – Wolf River Boulevard/Germantown Rd. Intersection Improvements Project. Approved 4-1

 

Want to Get Fit? Germantown has Choices!

It’s a running joke on social media that Germantown has too many pizza places. So it’s a good thing we have almost, if not more fitness choices.

Let’s take a look at the variety of fitness studio options in Germantown to meet any fitness level or price range.

ATC Fitness has locations all over the mid-south. In addition to the two Germantown locations, there are 14 in Tennessee, as far away as Jackson, and four in Mississippi with one as far away as Tupelo. ATC is open 24 hours and has a full complement of equipment both for cardio and weight training.

CycleBar offers a unique, high-energy, cycling experience for riders of all ages and fitness levels.

CrossFit SOPO Germantown offers a core strength & conditioning program that delivers “fitness that is by design, broad, general, and inclusive.”

The Exercise Coach is the latest fitness center to open in Germantown. They bill themselves as the “Smartest 20-Minute Workout In The World™.” The concept uses Exerbotics Connected Fitness technology. This tech-enabled training method uses scientifically customized strength and interval training. The technology adapts to abilities of any individual and is proven to be more effective than long-duration workout techniques.

F45 has not officially opened but will be coming soon. Originating from Australia, the concept combines elements of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Circuit Training, and Functional Training.

Germantown Athletic Center (GAC) is owned by the City of Germantown and provides a wide variety of services to its members. The GAC boasts an 8,500 square feet fitness area with state of the art equipment, certified fitness trainers, a three court gym, three courts for racquetball, indoor walking track, group fitness classes, a cycling room, a 40 meter indoor pool, dry saunas, locker rooms with separate areas for men, women and families, a cafe and an outdoor pool with a splash park. During January, you can join for $20.19 (regularly $99). For more information, (901) 757-7370.

HOTWORX is a virtually instructed exercise program using infrared heat. They offer either a 30-minute isometric workout or 15-min High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session.

Iron Tribe Fitness blends one-on-one coaching with group fitness to deliver results. Iron Tribe’s 45-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) group classes are paired with one-on-one personal coaching.

Jazzercise has offered dance-based group fitness classes since 1969. The Germantown location is headed by long-time local instructor, Marion Dalton.

The Little Gym Even your kiddos can get fit in Germantown. Bring them to The Little Gym and let them run off some energy with their creative physical activities.

Orangetheory Fitness offers high intensity interval training classes designed to get your heart rate in the “orange” zone for a more effective and lasting workout.

The Owings Life Enrichment Center at Germantown United Methodist Church offers a variety of classes and has a full service gym and walking track. It is open to non-church members for a fee and has limited nursery hours.

Pike Yoga offers group classes and personal training. Their philosophy, “Attitude. Matitude. Gratitude.” comes from their practice of yoga.

Pure Barre classes offer a low-impact, full body workout concentrating on the areas women struggle with the most: hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms. Men are welcome too, if you want to improve your “Pure Barre shelf.”

Sumits Yoga classes are designed for all levels, beginner through advanced. Each yoga session aims to strengthen the core, increase flexibility and restore balance—all while you sweat out toxins, increase your blood flow and flush fat.

UFC Gym uses an approach that fuses mixed martial arts with state-of-the-art equipment and traditional fitness. They offer group fitness classes, private coaching, personal and group training, plus youth programs.

If you can’t afford a group class or center, no need to sit on your couch. Germantown has a variety of parks, nature areas and a Greenway ready for your exploration.

Germantown Road Realignment?… DOA until 2023

Almost a year ago, Germantown Voice began blogging as a way to engage in political conversations. Our first blog was about the Germantown Road Realignment Project.

This topic continues to pop up, usually as a part of an argument that the “current administration” doesn’t listen to citizen input. Even as late as October last year, there were social media posts saying the Germantown Road realignment project wasn’t dead.

Officially, it is dead until at least 2023. Why 2023? This is where it gets a little complicated. Every 3-5 years the city submits a list of proposed projects to the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization). The MPO is the organization that prioritizes Local State and Federal funding for road and transportation projects in the Memphis Metro area. See the map below for the area covered by the MPO.

The list submitted this year is for projects between October 2019 and September 2023. The prior list was submitted to the MPO in 2013 and that was the list that included the Germantown Road Realignment project and McVay Road Realignment, both of which were not pursued due to community feedback. This year is the first opportunity for the city to submit their new list of priorities for funding of major road projects. Noticeably absent from the list is the Germantown Road Realignment. This is even after claims that last year’s resolution to kill the project were potentially just election year placations.

The time frame for MPO requests is long range due to the long range nature of projects. In many cases, it can take years for design, review, Right of Way acquisition and construction. These projects are important to the city as the majority of them are funded primarily or even wholly with State and Federal funds. In other words, these projects don’t impact your property tax rate.

Road projects are paid for a couple of different ways. First, is the paving of residential streets. The city pays for that as part of the Public Works budgets, roughly $2,000,000 a year. Next, is the work on major roads. These projects are funded with combinations of Local, State and Federal funds. This is where the MPO comes in to play.

When I saw the list of projects I had several questions about the priority of the funding and the MPO process. I sat down with City Engineer Tim Gwaltney last week to discuss the list and how the MPO works.

The MPO funds come from 3 to 5 main buckets. Traditionally, it has funded projects under three main categories, Bridges, Paving and Signalization. Germantown usually sees at least one of each of these types of projects funded. For example, even though the new traffic light at Houston High School is number six on the list it is the highest prioritized signalization project on the City’s list so it is likely to be funded. There are two new categories this year with funding for Safety Improvements and Plans & Studies. The prioritized list is below:

  1. Wolf River Blvd Mill/Overlay from Riverdale to Western City Limits $2.0M (80% Federal)
  2. Forest Hill-Irene Safety Improvements Poplar to Wolf River Blvd $5.0M (80% Federal)
  3. Poplar Culvert Replacements – Phase 5 $550K (100% Federal)
  4. Update City Major Roads Plan $200K (80% Federal)
  5. Intersection Safety Audits $200K (80% Federal)
  6. Signalization Wolf River Blvd @ Houston High $500K (100% Federal)
  7. Signal Upgrades $2.5M (100% Federal)
  8. Neshoba Road Mill/Overlay from Germantown Rd to Exeter $1.5M (80% Federal)
  9. McVay Road Bridge Replacement (just north of McVay and Messick) $600K (80% Federal)

The city will not get official word on which projects are approved by the MPO until near the end of the budgeting process for the city. We will keep an eye on the process and let you know what gets approved from the MPO as soon as we find out. You can find out more detail about each of these projects by following the link below.

https://gtown.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=c75ea4248dc44953b9dcc2287f85670a

For even more information on the City of Germantown’s Transportation Improvement Program funding requests for 2020 to 2023, please attend the public meeting  January 9 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Economic and Community Development Building, 1920 South Germantown Road. Learn more here.