Dean proposes new way forward for capital spending

Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 11:44pm

Mayor Karl Dean’s administration will soon file legislation to de-authorize all previously approved capital projects so that sometime this summer Metro can start from scratch on a new $500 million spending plan.

Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said the new spending plan would not look “drastically different” than the one last approved by Council in 2007.

Just over a year ago, Riebeling put a freeze on almost all capital projects that weren’t already underway. No new projects have been approved since then and Dean’s administration failed to file a spending plan last summer — which had been the practice of previous Mayor Bill Purcell.

Then came the financial crisis late last year, which froze the municipal bond market and made capital projects impossible for Metro.

With the markets thawing, Riebeling said the timing is right to revisit Metro’s capital projects, but he chose to untangle the current setup before starting anew. He said his “head hurt” analyzing the various accounts and statuses for capital projects.

According to Riebeling, the $500 million capital spending plan presented to Council will include $116 million in new projects. It also will require completing the $130 million in projects already underway.

Although no specifics were provided, the administration provided the following list of capital projects to be included in the spending plan: parks, Fulton complex, riverfront redevelopment, police and fire, Public Works, Metro Transit Authority and schools.

District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman called the move to de-authorize previously approved projects “unprecedented” and said he wanted to see the spending plan released by Dean next week.

District 19 Councilwoman Erica Gilmore questioned Riebeling during the budget presentation on which projects might be eliminated, pointing out that some Council members had counted on certain projects coming to their districts.

Riebeling countered by pointing out the spending plan was a suggestion by the administration and Council would have final approval over which projects get funded.

Among the projects promised by Dean last year was a DNA lab for Metro Police. This year Dean expressed his intention to build a connector road between Jefferson Street and West End Avenue.

Dean has also been supportive of improving mass transit in Nashville by adding bus rapid transit — super-fast buses in dedicated lanes — on busy corridors.


13 Comments on this post:

By: pandabear on 5/4/09 at 7:54

Funny I don't see anything about the convention center.

Isn't this exactly what they'd have to do before starting to spend money on it ?

By: Kosh III on 5/4/09 at 8:13

Get real panda.
They have already decided to do the convention center and nothing you, me, the Council nor anyone else will change that. :(

By: JeffF on 5/4/09 at 8:18

Are some council members suddenly becoming aware that CIP items in their districts rank far down the list; below projects, potential projects, and wish-list projects in downtown?

The recession may be what we all needed to get our representatives to see what all is done for a single, sparsely-populated neighborhood like downtown. The real Nashville (the one with the homes and jobs) needs more attention than downtown. Downtown is not the core, Nashvillians are.

By: nashbeck on 5/4/09 at 8:49

JeffF please name me a neighborhood in Nashville where more than 40,000 people work. I'll agree with you that downtown needs more residential, which it is growing, but when you have 40,000 people working downtown (not to mention 70,000 + 17,113 for sporting events), we need to focus a lot (not all) of our attention there.

By: JeffF on 5/4/09 at 9:23

I have yet to see a legitimate 40,000 working population for downtown. Here is a list of areas where 40,000 or more people LIVE:
The Hermitage/Donelson

So instead of focusing spending on the places where people LIVE we focus it on where some people work. Sure, lets not spend time worrying about living conditions, schools, and the environment where people spend most of their lives, lets spend our time and resources where some people spend a few hours a day.

We can either improve the lives of people where they are now, or dump millions of dollars into getting a few people to move to somewhere else. Downtown will never, ever grow into a legitimate residential neighborhood. It will forever be a pretend place with 750 square foot apartments for single people to reside until they are ready to move on with their real lives and get married and procreate.

By: nashbeck on 5/4/09 at 9:32

oh ok, so 40,000 people work downtown, but their jobs don't qualify as legitimate to you. I'd love to see their response to that.

Right now, residential is mostly expensive condos I'll agree. But look at the article in Today's City Paper and see what mdha is trying to do to encourage more residential and other developments.

Do Donelson, bellevue, antioch need revenue? OF COURSE. But downtown is the prime location where the majority of people work in Nashville, so completely neglecting it like you say is not very smart.

By: Anna3 on 5/4/09 at 9:37

Kosh III, Pandabear, and JeffF....We CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT DEAN'S BILLION DOLLAR BOONDOGGLE.............start the movement to remove him from office. He's not raising property taxes THIS it does not compromise his CONvention Center project's chances for passage. Next though...WATCH OUT! The poor schools, elderly, arts, homeless, women, the illiterate, the illegal aliens that cannot speak ENGLISH, ....and battered pets will all be facing certain death if we don't save them now with a massive tax increase! ....and in the smallest of small print, DEAN will say..."and Oh yeah...the CONvention Center needs more funds too!" What a crock! Let's see how many Council Members are stupid enough to fall for this crap Dean's peddling.

By: Anna3 on 5/4/09 at 9:45

Remember....WIth MAYOR KARL DEAN...all bets are off for ANY promises made to your neighborhood over the past years....if he can retract funding from favor of his new CONvention Center...he's goin' for it! It's open season on the neighborhoods and their time for Corporate Welfare!....The Peabody Hotel Group needs $350 Million to build a hotel for US to lease back to them for only a dollar per year! Its a good deal if you can get it! Unfortunately...its only available to close friends and supporters of Mayor Karl! Are there ANY of you AWARE that the principle & interest on the Convetion Center alone is $7.25 Million Dollars a MONTH???? And that....KPMG consulting has told Metro that this CONvention Center WILL LOSE MONEY FOR THE FIRST 23 YEARS IT IS OPEN?????? It's time for DEAN to go! We MUST have new leadership!

By: JeffF on 5/4/09 at 10:00

downtown is not the place where a majority of people work. They are far, far, far short of the 50%. Downtown at best holds a plurality of Nashville jobs of about 25%. Also you are assuming that they are all of Nashvillians working there. A far better estimate would be 60% are Nashvillians? Your arguments of downtown importance leaves downtown as hosting a mere 60% of 25% of Nashville employees? Combined with a living population of maybe 5000 p

Government is chartered to improve the living conditions of its citizens. Right now Nashville is more concerned with improving the working conditions of a very small percentage of its citizens.

By: nashbeck on 5/4/09 at 10:26

Until I see proof to those numbers, we'll continue to disagree. And I'm not for just improving the working conditions of those already working downtown, I believe in the downtown Live Work Play concept, so I want to ensure downtown lives up to its potential and becomes the Boston of the south, all the while not neglecting the neighborhoods you mentioned. It can be accomplished.

By: Time for Truth on 5/4/09 at 11:06

The greatest source of tax revenue in Nashville is the Donelson/Hermitage area. This includes Gaylord, Opry Mills, many hotels, manufacturing, office comlexes and the airport. Someone may have already picked up on this, as I haven't read many of the above comments, but I would guess this area at least rivals downtown for jobs and surpasses it in property tax payers.

If the convention center were placed in the mix with the others on Dean's 'kill list', it would be one of the first to be axed if judged fairly on a cost versus benefits basis.

By: Time for Truth on 5/4/09 at 11:09

nashbeck, I can think of a great area for a Live-Work-Play streetscape- it was even envisioned in the Bredesen era 'Plan'. But there's a giant albatross slated to go into that area instead, one that will kill that possibility.

By: JeffF on 5/4/09 at 11:28

agree TfT. We already know that the greatest source of hotel/motel tax is not downtown (the beneficiaries of the MCC) but is the Airport and Opryland areas. With all the TIF handed out willy nilly and all the public properties the downtown area probably does not pull in the most property tax either. Makes me curious where exactly does downtown pull its own weight.