Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15
Looking ahead to 2019, My Re-Election Announcement and Much More
Dear Friends –
While two months of 2019 are almost already past us, this is my first newsletter of the year and I hope everyone had a good Holiday Season with family and friends. While I did have some real quality time to enjoy with my friends and family and especially my son Joey, I have kept a full schedule in the community over the past couple of months. Some highlights are included in their respective sections below.
Probably the most major event that happened over the last couple of months since my last newsletter is that our new library was solidified and work has already begun at Donelson Plaza (check out their new website!). Most of 2019’s activity will consist of infrastructure, road work and sidewalks. Our new library construction won’t likely start until the end of this year or early next year, but the great news is that we’ve achieved a huge milestone and the new library and revitalized Donelson Plaza will breathe new life into the heart of our community.
Check out this news clip from 1963 when the land was purchased for our current library. Thanks to our Nashville Library Director Kent Oliver for sending this to me.
Hard to believe that it’s 2019 and that means its election year for Metro Council and Mayor. With all of last year’s special elections (and even one going on currently in District 29 to replace CM Karen Johnson who was elected our Property Assessor) this year will be the final term of some talented community leaders who are great people and with whom I’ve enjoyed serving. For other districts, like here in District 15, those of us who were new in 2015 are running for re-election. This has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life and I have grown both professionally and personally. I have worked hard to keep neighborhoods strong and represented, small businesses supported, encouraged and facilitated new businesses to invest here and much more. Please visit my website to read about the legislation I have passed and things I’ve accomplished this term. I am humbly asking for your support to continue serving District 15 for a second and final term. There has been a lot I have been very fortunate to accomplish but there is more to do. To support my reelection financially or to volunteer, please visit the Get Involved section of my website. As always, my sincere and humble thanks for the support and privilege of representing a wonderful community.
As part of what I’d like to make progress on over the next term is greater public and private support for the Music City Star to increase ridership and number of trips. The recent purchase of the Nashville & Eastern Rail Corporation by R.J. Corman Company was good news as they offer more resources and a broad experience in the rail business to help us achieve our goals. As a Board Member of the Nashville & Eastern Rail Authority, we finalized approval of this purchase recently and are looking forward to working with the new ownership. No changes or investments will happen immediately, but I’m hopeful that this new ownership brings new energy and focus to continue the NERR’s success. As I explained in my last newsletter, we are capped at 12 trips per day during the week with the Music City Star until we can invest in Positive Train Control. However, that cap does not include the weekends as long as they are privately sponsored trips. With that in mind, I’ve worked with our Regional Transit Authority to create the below marketing flyer and we will begin to more proactively work with the Nashville Chamber, Convention & Visitors Corporation and other organizations to showcase this opportunity when large events and conventions continue to come to Nashville.
The RTA Board of Directors has given approval for an extension of last year’s Vets for the Holidays program so that military veterans can ride RTA commuter bus services and the Music City Star commuter train for free. The program, which ran from November 1 to December 31, 2018, was a first for the RTA. It aimed to make public transportation services more accessible to military veterans, both as a gesture of appreciation and in recognition of the fact that access to transportation services is a critical resource for returning and disabled veterans as they connect to medical, employment, and support services while reintegrating to civilian life. To qualify, participants need only show a valid form of military veteran identification to the RTA bus operator or Music City Star train conductor. Forms of identification that will be accepted are:
- DD Form 2 (Retired United States Uniformed Services Identification Card)
- Tennessee Driver’s License or Identification Card with "Veteran" designation on front
- VA Health Benefits Identification Card
- DD214 form in lieu of a Veteran's identification card
For more information on the Vets for the Holidays program, contact RTA Customer Care at 615-862-5950 from 6:30am to 6:30pm on weekdays, 8am to 5pm on Saturdays and 10:30am to 2:30pm on Sundays, or visit www.rtarelaxandride.org.
The Donelson Pike / I-40 interchange project may very well begin within the year, pending final logistic preparations by TDOT and the Metro Nashville Airport Authority. It’s a complex project that will ultimately bring a dynamic interchange that is safer, more efficient and accommodates the rapid growth at the airport. Below is a graphic and more information about this project.
Here’s something I received late last year that I thought I’d share. Metro Water Services was pretty busy during FY18 with maintenance service requests in the district. Our Metro Water Department does a great job. They are working hard on addressing all the many issues throughout the county associated with the incredible amount of rain we’ve had lately. I’m turning them in to them as folks send issues to me. I strongly encourage everyone to use Hub Nashville so that you have a record of the request. It’s the most efficient way to request service from a Metro Department.
Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation announced today that two bridges on the main paved Shelby Bottoms Greenway Trail are closed. The bridge located at the 1.75 to 2.0 mile marker will close on February 19 and reopen at noon, Friday, February 22. The bridge located at the 2.0 to 2.5 mile marker is closed indefinitely. Damage from recent heavy rains is the cause of needed repairs to both bridges. Users are advised to find alternate routes.
You’ve no doubt seen or read a bit about our debt situation in the news. That on top of hearing about our budget shortfall last year that led to us not being able to fund promised cost of living adjustments to Metro employees is certainly continued disconcerting news. Below is a report from our Finance Director with a report on our audited fiscal 2018 year-end status. While our bond rating and revenues continue to be very strong, I believe there is consensus that we can’t sustain the level of debt spending that we’ve done over the past decade. The efforts to rebound from the recession and flood have obviously been successful and I’m thankful now that what Mayor Briley has said is that this next budget will focus on the basics and ensure we keep a strong foundation of funding public safety and education while taking care of our Metro employees. We have made strong investments over the past decade and revenues show that, we just now need to pay our debts accordingly and manage sustainable growth.
Pursuant to BL2018-1184, a “Blue Ribbon Commission” was established to to identify government inefficiencies, practices, transfer payments, third party payments and subsidies with the targeted goal of achieving budgetary cost savings of $20 million in annual savings. The goals of the Commission should further include identification of potential savings — from both the operating and capital budgets — including one-time and on-going savings. Residents can submit their suggestions for savings. To learn more about this commission and to submit your suggestion, visit this link.
Metro Arts' robust grants program distributes just over $2.4 million annually for operational and project-based funding for arts activities taking place in Metro Nashville-Davidson County. Non-profit organizations interested in applying can find the FY20 Grants Guidelines on the Metro Arts website. Applications must be submitted using our online grants management system, WebGrants. New applicants are encouraged to register for an account in WebGrants as soon as possible.
Important FY20 Grants application dates:
- January 23, 2019: FY20 online application available in WebGrants
- January 31, 2019: New applicant training video available on Metro Arts' YouTube channel
- March 20, 2019 4:30pm: Operating support application deadline
- March 27, 2019 4:30pm: Project support application deadline
Eligible property tax owners over 65 may qualify for the Tax Relief program (income less than $29,270) and the Tax Freeze program (income less than $41,780). Totally disabled and Disabled Veterans also may qualify. Our Metro Trustee staff members will be on hand at Fifty Forward Donelson Station on February 19th from 10am-noon to answer questions and help you sign up. See flyer below for details.