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June Update

June 1, 2020

The Metro Council will be holding a public hearing on the Mayor’s proposed budget on Tuesday, June 2 at 6:30pm. Because large gatherings are still considered a health risk, the meeting will be virtual. Citizens can weigh in by telephone from the comfort of their home. The meeting can be viewed via live streaming on Nashville.gov, on cable TV (Comcast channel 3, AT&T Uverse channel 99), or on the Roku Metro Nashville Network Channel. The Capital Improvements Budget (CIB), Bill BL2020-298 will be discussed first and is essentially a “wish list” of all the items that any department or council member has asked to be constructed in the next five years. Items must be included in the CIB to get funded, but this legislation does not actually allocate any money, and it is generally not controversial. Details of the CIB can be found at the Nashville.gov website. The next bill, BL2020-286, is the operating budget, and that is what people will want to talk about. When that bill is announced on the agenda, people who want to speak can call 629-255-1931, and an operator will instruct them on how to participate.

The mayor’s proposed operating budget is a no-growth budget that maintains essential services but requires all departments to continue cuts and hiring freezes, includes no raises or cost of living increases, eliminates or reduces discretionary spending, and delays capital (building) projects. To support the expected $2.4 billion spending, a property tax increase of $1.00/ $100 of assessed value has been proposed. Details of the budget can be found here. Over the next three weeks, the council will try to incorporate feedback from the public hearing and will consider at least one substitute budget and possibly five:

  • $0.37 property tax increase using federal loans to push some payment forward over the next three years (added to some payments from the 2009 recession that we are still paying off)
  • Around $0.60 property tax increase, no details yet on how this would differ from the mayor’s
  • $1.00 property tax increase using further department cuts to raise minimum wage for all school personnel to $15/hour
  • $1.067 property tax increase to provide raises to teachers and school support personnel
  • $1.16 property tax increase for teacher raises

By charter the council must pass some version of a budget by June 30, or the mayor’s budget will stand as proposed.

News related to COVID shut-down:

The city is in its second week of Phase 2 of reopening. If COVID related statistics stay within the Health Department’s prescribed limits, we are expected to move on to Phase 3 around June 8. This would mean full capacity for restaurants, retails, venues,and salons, 75% capacity for gyms and swimming pools, and 50% capacity for tours and transportainment. Social Distancing will still be required. If the trend of new cases does not go upward, then Phase 4 could begin as early as June 22. This would allow all businesses to operate at full capacity (still with Social Distancing), with venue sporting event openings to be determined after that. If statistics indicate that the virus is gaining ground, then it may be necessary to revert back to earlier phases. As long as Nashvillians continue to be careful about keeping distance and washing hands, we should be able to continue our forward progress.

NES has extended its waiver of late fees through June 30. Health Insurance Help: people who have lost employer health insurance or those with young children whose income dropped may qualify for Marketplace health insurance or TennCare. Call 844-644-5443 or 615-310-3285 for local volunteer help.

People have called me concerned about Fiber Installation taking place in public rights of way and what mechanisms are in place for tree and sidewalk protection. Metro Code requires a bond to be posted beforehand, and that all infrastructure and landscaping be restored when the project is completed. This seems to work adequately for sidewalk and shrubbery, but concerns remain about the long term viability of trees after boring or excavating has disturbed major roots of the tree. I am working on requiring photo documentation of the construction areas around the trees as part of the record so that appropriate responsibility can be determined if the tree dies within the three years following construction. This is not in place yet, so I encourage neighbors to take pictures of projects in your area and provide them to Public Works with the address and date of the project.

Send them to Jennifer.smith3@nashville.gov and ask her to log them with the project as evidence of good or damaging construction.

Brush pick-up begins for areas 4,5,6,7 starting June 5,11,19,and 26 respectively. That is roughly Percy Priest, Antioch, Berry Hill, and Green Hills.

Recycling rules around plastics have recently changed in Nashville. Metro Nashville Public Works is hosting a webinar next Tuesday, June 9th at 12pm to help residents learn about the importance of recycling and how to recycle right in Nashville.

They will cover:

  • The 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • How recycling works in Nashville
  • What can and cannot be recycled
  • Why not everything can be recycled

Registration is required and space is limited. Register at the Metro Nashville Public Works website.

Metro General Elections for Assessor of Property, Metro Trustee, School Board (odd numbered districts), and some judges are August 6 with early voting July 17 through August 1. This is also the state primary for the U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, State Senate, and State House. The last day to register to vote in this election is July 7. Early voting will be at all locations for the whole early voting period, including Belle Meade City Hall; Casa Azafran; Goodlettsville Community Center; and Bellevue, Bordeaux, Edmonson Pike, Green Hills, Hermitage, Madison, and Southeast Libraries. Because of the Corona Virus, disposable marking devices will be available for touchless voting. Absentee voting by mail is available to voters who are hospitalized, sick, over 60 years old, caretakers, full-time students living outside the county, and military living outside the county. Applications for absentee voting can be downloaded at the Nashville.gov website.

More information at can be found on this Nashville.gov page. Because of the virus, most forums will be on-line, and candidate websites may be the best way for voters to learn about the candidates.

Metro’s Emergency Alert & Notification System - MEANS is Metro’s tool for sending emergency alerts from public safety officials to the public. MEANS is also integrated with the National Weather Service (NWS), giving it the capability to notify the public of life-threatening weather conditions. The tornado watch sent on the evening of March 2nd covered a large geographical area but reached only a fraction of those in the affected locations. As powerful as MEANS notifications can be, currently MEANS weather alerts are sent only to contacts who sign up and provide an address at this Nashville.gov web page. In the “My Profile” section, open the “My Locations” section to add at least one street address or up to four additional addresses, such as work or child’s school.

The Financial Empowerment Center is now offering free financial phone consultations to answer questions without having to schedule a full session. Phone consultations are available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Financial counselors are also available for longer virtual or phone sessions to help you work through personal financial situations. Work with a counselor is client-led, so whatever circumstance or goals you come in with, a counselor can help you design a plan of action and provide encouragement along the way. Sometimes you just need someone to assure you there is a path forward.

Financial counselors can help:

  • Manage and prioritize bills
  • Work through debt and answer questions about interest, due dates and more
  • Establish or improve your credit and understand what impacts credit most
  • Create a budget
  • Open a bank or emergency savings account
  • Save and plan for your future

Over the phone appointments are available by calling 615.748.3620 or through this online form.

In the past few months, our community’s trees have endured a lot of strong winds and notably the fierce winds of a tornado. The Metro Tree Advisory Committee is encouraging property owners to consult an arborist if there are any questions about the condition of trees on their property. Whether trees were affected by the tornado or not, it is a good time to have them evaluated by a professional arborist. If a tree has suffered structurally, an arborist can assess its health and help with decisions on what needs to be addressed.

If a tree has grown too large for its location, an arborist can utilize a crown reduction pruning technique that reduces the overall tree size while keeping the tree’s structural integrity and natural form intact. This is different from a pruning technique known as “tree topping” which cuts back all top branches. Tree topping removes the branches that are crucial for growing leaves which are necessary for food production for the tree to live. (Never top trees! – It leads to a slow and painful tree death.)

An arborist can assist in evaluating ash trees on property. The Emerald Ash Borer is an insect pest in Davidson County that is expected to kill 100% of our native ash trees unless they are treated with insecticides. The arborist will determine if an ash tree is healthy and will recommend treatment methods or removal. An arborist can detect other tree pests and diseases that can affect the health of trees.

Young trees planted three years ago are ready for a review of their form proactive pruning if needed. With the assistance of an arborist, these cuts will create proper spacing of the branches. The tree will be sustainable as it grows, having less structural failure and fewer maintenance needs in the future.

Considerations for hiring an arborist to ensure they’re qualified to do the work include:

  • Ask for proof of worker’s compensation, liability insurance and references.
  • Get written bids with start and completion dates.
  • Determine the hourly rate for additional services if needed.
  • Get detailed contracts with signature.
  • Make sure cleanup and proper disposal are included. (The Metro Nashville Brush Collection program is not for commercial properties or to be used by the professional tree care industry.)

Arborist Certification is obtained through the International Society of Arboriculture. For more information, visit their website here.

The Metro Tree Advisory Committee’s mission is to promote tree planting and preservation throughout the city.

In Conclusion

Please let me know about your ideas and concerns by contacting me at burkley.allen@nashville.gov or 615-383-6604.

Regards,
Burkley Allen
Metro Council At-Large

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