Tag: Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

Metro Schools now an “Advancing” School District

I am very proud to share that Metro Schools has announced that student academic achievement is improving, and the district is now an “Advancing” school district, which is the second highest rating a school system can achieve.  That’s largely based on TCAP scores and then schools are broken down into three categories – Reward, Priority or Targeted Support.  There are many more schools in the Reward category this year. 

Advancing School District, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, MNPS

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Mayor’s Youth Summit

Encourage your student to engage with the Mayor’s Youth Summit on Wednesday, November 2nd, which will be back in person this year. The summit is held annually to bring together young people from across Metro Nashville to discuss issues important to them with their peers and local stakeholders.  Registration is due by October 14th.  Thanks to the Oasis Center for hosting.  Visit this link to register and see flyer below for more details.

Mayor's Youth Summit

Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Mayor Cooper, Mayor's Youth Summit

Point and Play - Jeff Syracuse - Metro Council at Large

Metro Parks add “Point and Play” Banner at Two Rivers Park

I want to thank Donelson neighbor Amanda Moss for reaching out and educating me about how communication can be extremely difficult for non-speaking children. They may not have acquired the reading skills to communicate, or don’t have access to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices, especially at parks.  So, I reached out to Metro Parks about her suggestion of including a “Point and Play” banner to Two Rivers Park playground so that everyone will have a way to communicate their needs.  I’m thankful to Metro Parks for agreeing to purchase this banner (shown below) as a pilot program.  So, if you see this banner, thanks go to Amanda for her advocacy to help ensure our Parks are welcoming and engaging for all our children.

Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Point and Play Banner, Two Rivers Park

Sutherland Heights Contextual Overlay Community Meeting

Sutherland Heights Contextual Overlay Community Meeting

Sutherland Heights has also expressed interested in learning more about the Contextual Overlay, so we will be having a community meeting on Tuesday, September 27th at 6pm at Pennington Fellowship Church at 2745 Pennington Bend Road.  All are welcome to attend if you’re interested in learning more. 

Contextual Overlay, Donelson Neighborhood News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

United Way File Free Taxes

Trash Pickup Update, Development Community Meeting, Traffic Calming and More

After weeks of a new low in performance by our trash contractor, Red River, things are finally improving after hiring another contractor to begin picking up routes to coincide with Metro picking up a few other routes that should allow Red River to be able to handle the remainder.

As many have heard, Red River filed bankruptcy last October and so they are afforded protections under the law.  Metro has legal counsel in Dallas aggressively representing our interests.

Red River’s contract began in 2004 and while it worked OK for some years, their poor management, inability to keep up with our growth, and failure overcome equipment, truck, and personnel challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic is why we find ourselves in this continued frustrating and untenable situation.

As many will recall, I filed a resolution last year calling for the end of the contract with Red River.  That prompted some structural changes to the contract, which made the situation better for some months afterwards, but Red River’s internal problems have only become worse, and they are spiraling downwards.

What Metro has learned is we can never allow one company to be responsible for so large of an area.  What we are trying to avoid is extremely expensive emergency contracts if Red River completely folds.  That would cost us millions of dollars.  That is why we temporarily diverted resources from recycling to trash pick-up.  We continue advocating to the bankruptcy court to allow us to modify the contract so that we can continue to make logistical changes as needed.  We are also beholden to the pandemic related supply chain logistical issues in that we cannot secure trucks and equipment fast enough.

Please continue to file a Hub Nashville request via website, phone app or by calling 311.  This continues to help us substantiate Red River’s failure and poor performance.

Please make plans to attend a virtual community meeting about a development proposal about 2001 Lebanon Pike on Monday, March 14th at 6:30pm.  The proposal is a residential development with about 90 townhomes on the 12-acre site.  The zone change request is to go to a “Specific Plan (SP)”, which would control the elements of the proposal.  It is envisioned as 85% brick/mortar and all for-sale product, no rental.  The historic home on the property will be saved and reinvested in to likely become an office.  Please join the meeting virtually at the link below as the engineer, Roy Dale, presents the proposal.  No formal rezoning has begun as we will have this community meeting first.  Join Zoom Meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8343340820

In a recent prior newsletter, I went into detail about how the redistricting process impacted our local Metro Nashville-Davidson County districts.  Remember you can always check out past editions of my newsletters by going to e-News Archive on my website.

The State and Federal redistricting process was of course a much more contentious, partisan process.  Here is a good website that covers the changes and impacts to us.  It’s important to take note of any changes to your household that affects the Federal and State elections. 

We have important elections coming up May 3rd.  Please get to know these candidates!  The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is March 15th.  Please visit the Davidson County Election Commission to view all information, including how to update your voter registration if need be.  I will be sharing my endorsements in a subsequent newsletter.  I will share that I am endorsing Dr. Berthena Nabaa-McKinney as our next District 4 School Board Member.  She is an extraordinary neighbor, passionate and dedicated community leader and has a very impressive academic and professional resume.  I encourage you to support “Dr. B” and get to know her.

Using United Way’s VITA free tax prep program, IRS-certified preparers will file your taxes safely and accurately at no cost.  Families with household income below $70,000 are eligible for both in-person and Virtual VITA across Middle Tennessee.  A no-cost, do-it-yourself version is available for taxpayers at any income level.  Visit the United Way’s VITA website or call 211 to get started.

United Way File Free Taxes

Metro Council extended the relief program administered by the United Way to assist with help covering rent, utilities, or mortgage through 2023.  Please visit this website to learn about the programs that are available.

MNPS is recruiting community members to volunteer as tutors and work one-on-one with Metro Schools’ students who need a little extra help in reading or math. With a commitment of 90 minutes a week, you can help accelerate a child’s learning progress and lay a foundation for future success.  Though most students can benefit from tutoring, Accelerating Scholars is currently focused on students in most need of support as determined by school personnel based on individual assessments in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade literacy and 8th and 9th grade math.  As our community continues to respond to and recover from the challenges created by the pandemic, MNPS is working with PENCIL, Vanderbilt’s Tutor Nashville, and many other organizations to expand the successful high-impact tutoring program for even more students. MNPS is working to pair tutors with elementary school students who need reading help or with middle school and high school students who need support as they learn math. 

The city’s youth summer employment initiative, formerly known as Opportunity Now is now the POWER Youth Summer Employment Initiative. 

The summer youth employment portal is open with more than 700 work experience and employment opportunities for Davidson County youth and young adults ages 14-24.

The youth opportunities are coordinated by age-appropriate groupings.  

  • Experience Work/project-based experiences (14 and 15 years old)
  • High School Internships (16-19 years old)
  • Direct Hire and External Postings (18-24 years old)

Applicants must have a Davidson County address and apply by April 8.  All positions will begin the first week of June and end in mid-July for youth ages 14-19.  The direct hire and external positions are year-round.  To apply, youth visit Metro Action’s POWER Youth portal on the Metro Action Webpage for the complete listing of opportunities.  Youth and Young adults will receive pay for their summer work experiences.  The summer employment initiative is a part of the Metropolitan Action Commission’s expanded opportunities for youth and young adults of Nashville and Davidson County.  For more information about the agency’s POWER Youth Program email the POWER Youth team at poweryouth@nashville.gov or 615-862-8860.

The Power of Youth Summer Employment Portal

What is it like to visit a Metro Parks community center?  How convenient is the checkout service at Nashville Public Library? How easy is it to catch a WeGo bus?  Mayor John Cooper and Metro Nashville’s departments are looking for those answers and more as they deploy community-wide customer experience surveys, which are open now.  “Like any enterprise must do, Metro government is reaching out to our customers – asking the people we serve to help identify how we can deliver better and more efficiently,” Mayor Cooper said. “As any successful small business or company must, city government will continue to earn our customers’ confidence – and that starts with asking for their feedback and ideas.”  Surveys take two minutes or less to complete; go to hubNashville to participate.

Lakeland Dr / Emery Dr and Lincoya Hills were selected for this round of Traffic Calming.  Visit the website here to see the design plan for Lakeland / Emery.  Lincoya Hills just had their first community meeting, and the design is still forthcoming.  If you live on this stretch of Lakeland or Emery and you haven’t signed the petition to allow the traffic calming elements to be installed, please contact me and I can connect you with neighbors leading the process.  If you live in Lincoya Hills, please contact Jenny White at jennywhite@comcast.net to engage in their process.  Merry Oaks traffic calming elements still require signatures to proceed with installation.  At the site above, you’ll also see the Merry Oaks design plan that was approved a couple years ago.  If you live on those stretches where traffic calming will be installed and haven’t signed, please contact me and I’ll assist with that.

The Nashville Youth Jazz Ensemble is a board I serve on and is led by Donelson’s own Rich Ripani.  He has led the creation of an extraordinary organization providing opportunities for kids to shine in performing jazz.  Below is the poster for NYJE Jazz Fest 2022 in Hendersonville. 

NYJE Jazz Fest 2022 in Hendersonville

I close this newsletter sharing an Op Ed that I wrote and was published by the Tennessean.  I have growing concerns about our sustainability as “Music City”.  Our local independent music venues are all in danger with development pressure around them, some are moving towards corporatization, and as Nashville becomes less and less affordable, the working creatives in this city are being forced to leave for more affordable cities.  In this digital age, creatives, especially songwriters, can work from just about anywhere.  It’s an issue that is critical to future of our city’s dominance as a global capital of music and one I’ve been focused like a laser on.

Best,

jeff syracuse

Donelson Council News, Hub Nashville, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, United Way File Free

Donelson Plaza Palooza

Donelson Plaza Palooza, Rezoning Community Meeting, Digital Inclusion Survey and Job Fair

Dear Friends,

As the weather warms up and everyone is getting out more after being vaccinated, here’s a great opportunity to enjoy our new green space in front of the new Donelson Library site and support Donelson Plaza businesses. On Saturday, May 22nd from 10am – 3pm, bring your chair or blanket, visit Plaza business booths with special deals and grab a lunch at one of the Plaza businesses while enjoying live music and performances in addition to special programming from our Nashville Library! Plus, the Civic Design Center wants your ideas for the public space in front of the Donelson Library. Visit their “Soundbox” shipping container during the event!

Donelson Plaza Palooza

I will be hosting a community meeting on Thursday, May 13th at 6:30pm via Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8343340820) so the development team can introduce themselves and make a proposal. 2842 Lebanon Pike is proposed as three 2,500 sq ft commercial buildings with five condo buildings at 79 total units. 2850 Lebanon Pike is proposed as five condo buildings at 63 total units. These two are separate filings and would be separate bills, but because they are close together, I wanted to ensure they run together through the process. They are scheduled to be at the Planning Commission on Thursday, June 10th.

Donelson UDO

The Nashville Digital Inclusion and Access Taskforce is seeking input from Metro residents about the digital divide—the growing gap between those who benefit from technology and those who are excluded in the digital age. The Taskforce is led by Dr. Fallon Wilson of Black Tech Futures Research Institute and Dr. Samantha Perez of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. The group aims to collect data to enable Metro Government and local organizations to make data-driven decisions about how they serve the public, particularly those who have low or no Internet access or digital literacy. The survey is one of 21 strategies set forth in Connected Nashville, Metro’s smart city plan, developed by a 76-person working group. Funded by Frist Foundation, Google Fiber and Nashville Public Education Foundation, the survey is conducted collectively by Vanderbilt Peabody, the Digital Inclusion and Access Taskforce, and The Equity Alliance. Results of the survey will be publicly shared with the community and published on the Metro Open Data Portal. Additionally, the Taskforce will issue recommendations to maximize the impact of existing initiatives and resources by targeting work to address areas of greatest need, as identified by the survey. To take the survey, Nashville residents are invited to visit http://bit.do/digequitynash through May 15 (http://bit.do/digequitynash%20through%20May%2015) .

There will be a two-day job fair hosted by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation. One of the days will be at Opryland. See flyer below for details.

Job Fair Flyer May 2021

I’m honored to have been asked to be among the faculty of Neighbor 2 Neighbor’s C4N Nashville 2021. I will be participating in the panel discussion, “The Role of a Metro Council Member in Planning and Development.” C4N Nashville is a one-day training and networking event for anybody who wants to make a positive difference in their neighborhood. Choose from 25 workshops, facilitated conversations, panel discussions, and presentations on eight key neighborhood passions.

Please plan to join me virtually at C4N Nashville on Saturday, May 15th. Learn more and register at https://www.n2n.solutions/c4n.

C4N Nashville

Best,

jeff syracuse

Donelson Council News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

2021 Reappraisal Packet 1

2021 Reappraisal and Tax Impact, Farmer’s Market 2021 Season, Community Clean Up and More

Dear Friends,

Everyone should be receiving their 2021 reappraisal information in the mail soon if not already.  As you’ll note in the packet in the graphic below, growth has not slowed down, even through the pandemic  Here are two graphics with heat maps that compare the 2013-2017 growth vs the 2017-2021 along with very important information about the reappraisal process, which is mandated by State law.

2021 Reappraisal Packet 1

2021 Reappraisal Packet 2

2021 Reappraisal Packet 3

2021 Reappraisal Packet 4

As you’re probably aware, the State mandates the reappraisal process to be revenue neutral, so as the values go up, the tax rate must come down.  That also means that if you’re above the average countywide reappraisal rate, the impact to your property taxes is that they usually go up.  If you’re below the median increase, they generally go down.  Check out our tax rate compared to Tennessee’s four biggest cities.  You’ll note the impact of the reappraisals over the years.

Property Tax Graph 25 Year 4 Cities

A lot people were understandably upset at the 34% tax increase last year.  It couldn’t have come at a worse time due to pandemic and economic shutdown.  Among the financial issues we have, the biggest one is that we haven’t managed the tax rate well.  If you’ll note on the 25-year tax graph, historically after the appraisal occurs and affects the tax rate to go down, the Mayor and Council will nudge it up nice and easy in the years afterwards to account for growth.  That didn’t happen in 2017 and we were left with an unsustainably low rate.  We hadn’t nudged the rate up since 2012 and should have done that so we wouldn’t have been looking at such a stark increase last year (which was still 30 cents cheaper than it was in 2017).  So, here we are again with an appraisal that shows rapid property value increases, which means the rate will drop back down to historic lows.  Yes, we have issues with overspending and too high of debt, but our overall financial outlook is strong if we can keep our hands tight on the reigns of the tax rate.  We’re still operating with fewer Metro employees than we had in 2003.  We have a lot of work to do to manage growth and ensure it is benefiting everyone.  When you add the impact of the pandemic and the economic shutdown, the trillions of dollars that has come from the federal government assistance to states, cities and local municipalities, we have to be laser focused on stable fiscal management, which means budgeting thinking about the long term and not using federal government assistance to balance our budget.  That would be dangerous as those funds will not be here forever and we need to focus on those funds supporting schools, small business, out of work neighbors and other critical areas so we can get through the pandemic’s impact.  We will get through this together.

The Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market returns for the 10th season at Two Rivers Mansion on Friday, May 7th at 4pm.  This is a treasure of an event for the community and hope you will make plans to support it every Friday through October.

The Donelson Gateway Project needs your help for the annual spring cleanup.  “Many hands make light work”.  Meet at the Briley Pkwy / Lebanon Pk site on Saturday, May 8th at 10am.  We can disperse to other sites as needed.  Thank you for your support of keeping Donelson beautiful!

The Buchanan Family Festival Fish Fry & Flea Market will be May 15th at 11am.  See flyer below for details.

BLH 2021 Festival Flyer

The annual Phil the House with Arts and Friends at Two Rivers Mansion will be on Sunday, May 16th from 1-4pm and will feature the photography of local resident and Friends member Doug Almy.

I’m now fully vaccinated and encourage everyone to do the same so we can get back to opening the city back up 100%, all our kids back in school and put this pandemic behind us.  All COVID19 related info, including how to sign up for vaccine appointments can be found here.

Finally, I will be sending out another newsletter about two rezoning meetings coming up (one for a single family home development at 2600 Pennington Bend Rd and the other for condo developments at 2842 and 2850 Lebanon Pike) plus an exciting community event on Saturday, May 22nd.  So, stay tuned to another newsletter on the heels of this one once I firm up dates and details.

Best,

jeff syracuse

Donelson Council News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

Happy New Year! What’s ahead in 2020, Update on Metro Finances and Important Transit Meeting

Dear Friends –

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season.  Hard to believe 2019 is done.  I know I’m a bit behind sending out a newsletter.  Let’s dive right in.  Lots to cover here, mostly on what’s happening in Metro and economic development in the community.
 
The biggest and most important focus right now is getting our finances back on track.  Things have been moving quickly since the term began.  I’ll try to break this down in a palatable way.

  • The initial FY19/20 budget was not balanced because the plan to bring in a private company to manage on-street parking and selling our downtown district energy system was not approved, thankfully so, because neither were a good idea.  However, that did leave us with about a $41.5 million gap to close in this budget.  
  • An unbalanced budget is against State law.  Justin Wilson, the Comptroller for the State of Tennessee, visited Metro Council’s Budget & Finance Committee (of which I’m a member) to make a presentation of where we stand and actions that need to happen.  CM Mendes, Budget & Finance Chair, added the presentation on his website here.  CM Mendes and a number of other colleagues have become more adept than I at getting out quick communication (I know… my newsletters are long and have been working to get shorter e-blasts out there, especially with situations like this that are very fluid.)  I encourage you to follow CM Mendes’s website for his excellent and informative updates here.
  • Mayor Cooper has made some difficult decisions as we knew he would have to in order to correct our fiscal issues and balance the budget and fill the $41.5 revenue gap.  Some of the below is rather complicated.  Here is how the revenue gap has been filled and was approved by the State Comptroller:

    * An agreement with the Convention Center Authority will bring about $12.6 million annually back into the general fund from the Music City Center via a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Taxes) agreement.
    * $10 million via a PILOT with Metro Water Services.
    * $7.2 million MDHA TIF (Tax Increment Financing) payment reduction ($10.8 million was the total, with $7.2 million to Metro and $3.6 million to Metro Schools).
    * $3.6 million from the Convention and Visitors Corporation.  Debt Service reimbursements for facilities that attract tourists are an allowable use of Tourist Promotion funds under TN Code and the CVC will adjust their spending from that fund to accommodate the $3.6 million reimbursement.
    * $500k from program reimbursements from Sheriff’s Office / US Marshall Service.  The Sheriff will be housing federal prisoners under an existing contract.  It’s important to note this contract does not include ICE detainees. This is a net gain of revenue to Metro, and funds will need to be allocated to the Sheriff’s Office to budget for this new programming.
    * $2.6 million in targeted savings, fund balances and deferrals:
    $600,000 of excess fund balance that has built up in the impound lot fund that will be transferred to the General Fund.
    * $450,000 budgeted for the staffing study and public property performance audit that have not been started and cannot be completed this fiscal year.
    * $200,000 of the amount budgeted in post audits where current projections indicate this funding will not be needed to close out the fiscal year.
    * $100,000 of contingency that has not been used and that Finance doesn’t believe will be needed this year. 

The remaining $1.2 million is anticipated excess savings from various departments and agencies throughout Metro.Last year nearly all Metro departments and agencies exceeded their targeted savings amounts by a collective total of $8.8 million.Departments and agencies continue to be mindful of the need for savings and based on mid-year budget meetings, we believe they will again collectively exceed savings targets.

  • Of the budgeted $10 million for the Barnes Fund that goes towards assisting affordable housing projects, only $5 million will be awarded.  The Mayor has said this is a partial impoundment of this fund and will strive to ensure it is put back in future budgets.  This does delay some critical affordable housing projects from moving forward.

Another decision that was made that I fully support is $18 million that was debt already approved for the Gulch pedestrian bridge has been reallocated for other critical infrastructure projects, traffic calming, street lights and needed new trash cans around the county.  In addition, the promised extra 3% pay increase last summer that teachers would get starting January 1, 2020 was kept under the new administration.  So, where do we go from here?  As this upcoming budget planning cycle is absolutely critical, there is agreement to start it early.  Our fiscal year is July 1, but the budgeting process has already been started in the administration and the cycle will be moved up one month to June 1, so that the Comptroller has ample time to oversee and approve that we have improved cash management, redevelop adequate reserves.
 
Will a property tax increase be on the horizon?   I believe so, yes.  Is it warranted?  I believe so, yes.  What will it be and where will it go?  That’s the critical question we will address in the months ahead.  I have voted against a property tax increase over the last two years.  I didn’t feel there was 1) a substantial long term plan for how revenues would be used and 2) a lack of trust that there wasn’t a fundamental change in direction that would’ve otherwise just fueled more development and not directed the money to critical areas of schools and public safety.  You may hear from a colleague or two on Council who believe we need to make more cuts.  I disagree and have yet to hear what cuts there are left to make.  I believe we’ve cut to the bone.  I have engaged with staff at our departments at all levels.  Our staffing levels at departments and they’ve consistently made more and more cuts.  Their staffing levels are what they were during the recession more than a decade ago and our ability to recruit and retain teachers, police officers and fire fighters is hampered by our lack of ability to support them with competitive salaries.  This absolutely must change.  Here’s one recent story highlighting the challenges we face.  Our property tax rate is the lowest in Metro history after the 2017 property reassessment.  We will have another reassessment in 2021.  I believe under Mayor Cooper’s leadership and Council’s hard work, we will continue to trim spending, address our revenue needs and ensure every penny is put to address our top priorities.

Here’s a good story about where we are headed with the budget process this year.
 
Mayor Cooper’s administration is hosting a series of eleven public listening sessions about where we go from here in regards to transit.  Read about all of them here.  The one for our side of town will be on Thursday, January 16th at 6pm at FiftyForward Donelson Station.  Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend this important meeting.

Coffee with Mayor Cooper

At Council last Tuesday I had the honor of presenting a resolution I sponsored honoring the 50th Anniversary of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. I was joined by Councilwoman Zulfat Suara, Council Member At-Large Burkley Allen, Erin Evans, Metro Councilmember District 12 and Brett Withers for Council District 6. Thanks to Councilwoman Joy Styles – District 32 for the picture.  CEO Melissa Hudson-Gant accepted the resolution and was joined by David Fish and his little brother Jayden (who also had the opportunity to use Vice Mayor Shulman’s gavel and start the meeting) along with Nicole Cochran and her son William, who was the little brother of Frank Trew, which made it very special and personal for me. I’d like to think Frank would be proud of the resolution and especially how great of a young man William has become.  I’m very thankful for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee and the incredible impact they’ve made on thousands of young men and women over the years. Read the resolution here.

50th Anniversary of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee
 
Thanks to those that attended the rezoning meeting for 1590, 1600, 1602 and 1604 Lebanon Pike.  The initial proposal for a 100-unit apartment complex has been changed after feedback from neighbors.  The proposal is now 19-townhomes in front and 60-unit condo complex with a rooftop amenity to view downtown.  Thus, for-sale product instead of apartments.  There will be no short term rentals and the townhomes will have elements of brick in them.  It is a much improved plan that will add value to the area.  It will be on the February 4th Council Meeting for second reading / public hearing.

Rezoning meeting for 1590, 1600, 1602 and 1604 Lebanon Pike

A number of folks over the past few years have asked about segmenting off a portion of our Two Rivers Dog Park for smaller dogs.  It seems easy enough, but as we know, nothing really is.  I asked some specific questions about the feasibility of this.  What I learned is that just putting up a section of fence to divide it in two doesn’t work.  All the animal behaviorists and other experts that have advised our Metro Parks Department over many years recommend against doing this.  It creates “fence aggression” and other undesirable activity.  Also, if each zone (big and small) don’t have all the same amenities (water, shade, trails, etc.) that’ll create another issue to address.  Instead, the best practice is to create an entirely separate dog park.  Parks has strategically chosen to hold off on installing separate small dog parks using Metro funds until the entire county is first well-served with a general purpose park.  I support this.  I wish it could be done more easily than this, but it is indeed equitable to ensure all parts of the county have access to a dog park before we start building other ones for our smaller dogs.

The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring thousands to help with the big 2020 census.  This is very important as this data collected helps direct grants and other federal support for a variety of topics.  Visit their website here to learn more about the process and job opportunities.
 
Big thanks goes to Piedmont Gas for sponsoring the first ever Nashville Christmas Parade train ride.  They sold around 600 tickets and about filled the train up.  Some proceeds from the “Christmas Parade Express” went to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.  I believe it will be back next year.  I’m always trying to find new sponsorships for weekend rides wherever possible.  See flyer below to learn more about the opportunity.
 
Big thanks goes to Piedmont Gas for sponsoring the first ever Nashville Christmas Parade train ride

Big thanks goes to Piedmont Gas for sponsoring the first ever Nashville Christmas Parade train ride

Best,

Donelson Council News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Metro Finances

Mayor John Cooper Inauguration with Metro Councilman Jeff Syracuse

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.

Mayor John Cooper Inauguration with Metro Councilman Jeff Syracuse

Mayor John Cooper Inauguration with Metro Councilman Jeff Syracuse

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.

Homeless Camp Cleanup with Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

Homeless Camp Cleanup with Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

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.

Scene Best Of - Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15 

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.

Leadership Music 2020 with Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

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.

BNA Arial Map - Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

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.

Joey Becomes An Eagle Scout with Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

Joey Becomes An Eagle Scout with Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

Best,

Metro Councilman Jeff Syracuse

Donelson Council News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15