Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15
New Term Begins, Election as President Pro Tempore, Community Meetings and More
Dear Friends –
Our second term began smoothly and as Mayor John Cooper’s administration takes shape, so does Metro Council as leadership roles have been assigned and elected as well as committee assignments have been made. In addition to serving on the Budget & Finance Committee and continue serving on the Parks, Library & Arts Committee, I was also honored and humbled to be elected President Pro Tempore (“Pro Tem”) of Metro Council, which serves as the presiding officer should the Vice Mayor be unable to serve.
Here are a couple pictures from the inauguration. This first one is great as these are your representatives from the Donelson-Hermitage-Old Hickory area. District 14’s Kevin Rhoten, District 11’s Larry Hagar, District 12’s Erin Evans, District 13’s Russ Bradford and yours truly. I’m very thankful to Judge Lynda Jones for swearing in all the Council Members at the inauguration as well.
In addition to our standard committees, Vice Mayor Jim Shulman has created several special committees to tackle specific issues. Learn more about all the committees here. I’m glad to be part of the committee looking into how we can better engage our neighbors in the voting process. Remember that you can register or update your registration online here. Be sure to stay close to www.nashville.gov/vote for all voter information when the next election cycle comes about, which will be March 2020, a special election for Metro Trustee to complete the term held by Charlie Cardwell, who passed away while in office. Parker Toler, 15th District resident, was appointed by Metro Council to fill the seat. Parker will be running in this special election and I will be supporting him.
I will be hosting two community meetings coming up in regards to proposed developments. They are:
- Tuesday, November 12th at 6:30pm at Donelson Presbyterian Church to discuss a proposal two add two limited service hotels as part of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) as part of the original Bridgestone Building in Craigmeade.
- Thursday, November 14th at 6:30pm at Grace Nazarene Church in Pennington Bend to discuss a proposal to build 32-town homes on Pennington Bend Road.
As you have likely heard by now, there will be an increase in our water rates. Here is the breakdown of the main points about this.
- Metro Water Services operates as an enterprise fund: revenue comes from rates and fees charged to customers. With this money, MWS pays for operating, maintaining, and funding capital improvements for the water and wastewater systems.
- Nashville’s last water and sewer rate increase was in 2011. Prior to that increase, MWS had not raised water and sewer rates for 13 years. In the past 10 years, operating costs have increased 30% and capital needs for maintenance and upgrades have increased as well.
- MWS has been forced to scale back on capital activities due to a lack of funding. Bidding had to be delayed on 16 designed projects and design on more than 50 additional capital projects was postponed.
- In 2018 the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and the Tennessee Water and Wastewater Financing Board found MWS’ water and sewer fund to be “financially distressed” and instructed MWS to complete a rate and cost of service study (report) and provide a plan of action by August 31, 2019. This study has been completed and submitted as required.
- For the past 20 years, MWS rates have been among the lowest in the nation as well as our region, and with the proposed increases, our rates will remain among the lowest in national averages and will align with our regional utilities.
- More than 65% of our water pipes and 58% of our sewer pipes are over 40 years old. We must begin an aggressive program to replace a percentage of water and sewer pipes each year.
- Due to our aging and failing sewer infrastructure, MWS is required to invest an additional $1.5 Billion in Nashville’s sewer system to meet the demands of the U.S. Department of Justice, EPA, and TDEC Consent Decree. Compliance with the Consent Decree is the purpose of the Clean Water Nashville program.
- The proposed rate structure is cost-of-service based, encourages wise water use and conservation, and provides for affordable drinking water for essential residential use.
- Costs have been allocated between customer classes based on their estimated usage and demand requirements and recognizing the different costs associated with serving different customer classes.
- The tiered residential structure encourages wise water use by charging more for discretionary water use.
- The majority of residential customers will see an increase of $9 or less; Less than 20% of residential customers will see an increase over $15.
- In addition to the new rate structure, development related fee increases are also being proposed. In 2009, development fees were decreased 50% due to the economic crisis. Although cost studies were periodically completed, development and other fees were never re-established to recover costs.
- Stormwater Fees will not be affected. SW fees were modernized in 2017.
- The rate and fee adjustments must be effective January 1, 2020. This date is reflected in the study provided to the Comptroller, which will be presented to the Water and Wastewater Financing Board in November. As a result of this meeting, it is likely MWS will receive an order from the Board to implement the plan.
- A residential rate calculator, Infographics and additional resources are available on the website here.
- Open Houses will be held for commercial customers in November. Dates TBD. Notification postcards will be mailed to all MWS commercial customers.
Thanks to each and every one of you who donated to the homeless camp clean-up and supply drop organized by neighbor and homeless advocate Jon Rizzo, Open Table Nashville and me and to the neighbors who came to help with the clean-up, show some love to our homeless neighbors and restock their supplies for the winter. Open Table is a wonderful organization and all extra supplies will be all used directly to serve the homeless. Big thanks to FiftyForward Donelson Station for hosting the two collections bins as well as Mark and Kevin at Donelson Café & Catering and Treasures Consignment for all their assistance as well. Check out just one picture of your generosity! The boxes were full again, so thank you so much.
Well, it was quite a surprise to open the Nashville Scene’s “Best of” 2019 edition and see that I had been voted third best Council Member. Thanks to everyone who took the time to put my name forward. I do love the job and continue to be humbled and honored to serve.
I was honored to be selected to be part of Leadership Music’s Class of 2020. Now in its 31st year, this is a wonderful organization bringing leaders in the music industry together from all over the county. I’m very humbled to have been among the 40 selected from over 300 applicants. I really look forward to engaging in this next class of music industry leaders and believe it will help me serve Nashville to an even greater level. Here’s a picture from the opening orientation that was held at BMI.
I receive a lot of inquires about the site work being done in the vicinity of the Buchanan Log House. This is all property owned by the airport. This is not for any construction of the area or for any airport-related construction project nor is it for the I-40 / Donelson Pike interchange project (that may start towards the end of next year). It’s purely site work to help remove invasive species and improve the stormwater flow. There is a small parking lot being constructed for events at the Buchanan Log House. The roads interior to the property are being removed as shown in the plans below.
Before we get to the specific news sections below, I want to take a “moment of personal privilege” (as we call it on the Council chamber floor) and just say how proud I am of my son Joey, who recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout. My Dad was instrumental in guiding Joey with his Eagle project, so this picture of them together in front of Two Rives Mansion where his Eagle Court of Honor was held is very special to me. Also a great picture is State Representatives Darren Jernigan and Bill Beck supporting Joey with a resolution from the State House of Representatives and were there at the ceremony to present it along with a State Flag flown above the State Capitol in Joey’s honor.