The Metro department charged with keeping most of the city’s buildings and vehicles running will cut many of the services it offers to other departments as part of a $7.2 million budget cut for the next fiscal year.
At its budget hearing Monday, the General Services Department, which includes building maintenance, security services and fleet management, said the cuts to services provided to other departments will save about $3 million.
“Maintenance staff will no longer be completing small projects such as tiling, carpentry, plumbing and painting that we’ve done in the past,” General Services Director Nancy Whittemore said. “We will go to our reduced lighting after hours at 6 p.m.”
They are also planning to cut 412 cars from the city’s fleet.
“I think it’s absolutely nuts for us to get rid of all of these vehicles. They’re bought and paid for,” said Councilman Michael Craddock. “You know, when the economy turns around, we’ll go and buy more vehicles to replace what we sold for nothing, and it’s just insane that government does these kinds of things.”
However, Craddock has been critical of the maintenance costs of some items, including lawnmowers in the sheriff’s office which can cost over $3,400 to run and maintain each year. Many cars cost in the neighborhood of $2,000 per year.
The remainder of the cuts will come from 29 slashed positions — 17 of which are filled —under Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed budget.
Music City Center moment
A pair of Council members took a few minutes out of the Convention Center’s budget hearing Monday to discuss the benefits of the new center proposed for downtown.
At-Large Councilmen Ronnie Steine and Charlie Tygard had the director explain economic benefits from more tourists heading into downtown Nashville.
Director Charles Stark said the current facility is doing a better-than-expected job at reducing its dependence on the city. Its subsidy was budgeted for about $814,000, but he says the center has made enough money it will only need about $400,000 from the hotel/motel tax this fiscal year.
The Finance department will lose one employee next year and is eliminating 8 other vacant positions. It will, however, pay the salary for one employee out of the tourism taxes intended for the new convention center who will oversee the administration of those taxes and the other financial arrangements for the proposed project.