The new Star Wars movie was a fun part of the Holiday Season for many families. I certainly enjoyed taking Joey to see it and having an engaging and philosophical discussion about this very timeless story. It’s also an excellent analogy for how 2016 began – faster than light speed! January has flown by but it has been an incredibly productive month. I have been working very hard on a number of initiatives.
I want to begin this newsletter with acknowledgement specifically to our Music Valley / Pennington Bend neighbors and businesses, which have seen the 2015 Holiday Season traffic as the most challenging one yet. As the Middle Tennessee region continues to grow, we can only expect it to increase and we need to take proactive action on. Councilman Claiborne began the effort this past summer by bringing together many Metro and State departments and agencies, businesses and neighbors to meet and discuss the increasing challenges. Metro Public Works did hire a consultant to analyze traffic flow and propose possible solutions. While a couple of those proposals were implemented, we learned that we need increased resources and better coordination to successfully achieve improvement. My primary concern is public safety when our roads are gridlocked and emergency vehicles have a difficult time reaching our neighborhoods, hotels and other tourist destinations. I’ve engaged the Mayor’s Office and Metro Departments to begin early this year to assist in developing a plan that puts public safety first, improves traffic flow and helps ensure all our businesses can benefit from the positive economic impact from the tourist activity the area receives. I will keep everyone informed with any new developments with this effort.
There was a big turnout for the 32nd Annual Donelson-Hermitage Chamber Christmas Parade and I enjoyed being a judge along with School Board Member Anna Shepherd, Councilman Kevin Rhoten (District 14) and DH Chamber 2016 President-Elect Sharon Kipp. A very special moment in the parade is when the Music City Young Marines stopped at the Judge’s table and presented me with a U.S. Flag.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting with some of our firefighter and emergency responders at Stations 22 and 28 here in District 15. Joey and I recently had dinner with the A-Shift crew at Station 28 and we had a first-hand experience of the day-to-day operations of how they work hard to keep us safe. The Nashville Fire Department recently received 13 new fire trucks and we are fortunate that both Station 22 and 28 received one each. Thanks to Nashville Fire Department Deputy Director Mike Franklin for sending the below pictures of the new trucks at Station 22 (pictured are Fire Fighter R. Hickman, Fire Engineer S. Baker and Fire Fighter M. Mares) and Station 28 (pictured are Paramedic C. Byers and Fire Engineer S. Beiszer).
I look forward to writing some new blogs this year showcasing the great neighbors I’m honored to serve. First up for 2016 is my Soul of a City blog featuring the very talented Brennin Hunt. Check out his story and great music you can listen to on my website.
Our first meeting of 2016 was on January 4th and was a full agenda. One item was a piece of legislation I filed (BL2016-117) in regards to Flex Loans, which are a relatively new product of the “Alternative Financial Services” industry. I sent a separate e-blast out about Tennessee Quick Cash’s purchase of the former Papa Murphy’s building at 2535 Lebanon Pike. Read that e-blast here. I’m happy to report that the Board of Zoning Appeals case was heard on Thursday, January 21 and their appeal to use the property was denied. They have 60-days to file a lawsuit against Metro. I hope they do not and instead sell the property or find another use that the community can be proud of and support.
Our second meeting of 2016 was on January 19th. My bill to help secure the integrity of the distance requirements of Alternative Financial Services businesses goes to the Planning Commission for review on January 28th and then it will go back to Council for Second Reading. My other bill was to assist Ryman Hospitality’s Wendell Building headquarters in extending their parking lot. The State and Metro jointly have a right-of-way area near Briley Parkway so basically Ryman HP is purchasing that land to give them needed extra parking.
The Metro Tax Relief Program helps provide assistance to low-income elderly residents. The State Comptroller’s Office developed guidelines for eligibility. In part, it states that a person must be 65 years of age or older (or declared permanently and totally disabled by Social Security), must own and live on the property and the income of all owners of record and/or spouses of the property must not exceed $28,690 (based on 2014 income) per year. By Budget Ordinance BL2015-1124, Metro Council appropriated $3,700,000 for the FY 2015-2016 operating budget to the Property Tax Relief Program.
Disabled veterans are a part of the Tax Relief Program as well. They have to be declared 100% disabled by the Veterans Administration. If they qualify and reside in the Urban Services District, the State pays $996 and Metro pays $1,992, a total of $2,988. If they reside in the General Services District, the State will pay $865.45 and Metro will pay $1,730.90 with a total of $2,596.35. The income limit is $60,000.
The Tax Freeze Program was approved by Tennessee voters in a November 2006 constitutional amendment referendum. The Tax Freeze Act of 2007 permits local governments to implement the program and Metro Nashville-Davidson County became the first jurisdiction in the state to establish a tax freeze program. Under the program, qualifying homeowners age 65 and older can “freeze” the tax due on their property at the amount for the year they qualify, even if tax rates increase. Applicants must present: (1) Proof of age – birth certificate, Medicare card, driver’s license, passport, etc.; (2) Proof of ownership – current tax bill or receipt, recorded deed, etc.; (3) Evidence property is principal residence – voter registration card, etc. Further, income records must be provided showing the total income of all owners of the property does not exceed the 2015 limit of $40,960 (based on 2014 income) for Davidson County. Income records include Federal tax returns or other items acceptable to Trustee. All applicants must sign an income verification form permitting the Trustee to contact IRS, SSA or the State Division of Property Assessment to verify income. The application is a public record, but the financial documents remain confidential. Applicants may contact the Metro Trustee’s Office at 862-6330 regarding these programs. Applicants may come to the Trustee’s Office at 700 Second Avenue South Suite 220 to file an application.
Metro Public Works has a newly renovated Recycling Education Station that offers visits for a great educational experience. Check out their website here for more information and how to schedule a visit.
More good news from Metro Public Works is the announcement of a comprehensive Traffic Timing Signal Optimization Project of traffic signal timings throughout Davidson County. They will go through 560 signalized intersections over the next couple of years that will improve signal timing and traffic flow. For more information and view the schedule, visit the news release on their website here.
Donelson Council News January 2016, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Renovated Recycling Education Station, Tax Freeze Program, Tennessee Quick Cash’s purchase of the former Papa Murphy’s building, Tennessee Quick Cashs Use Of Property Was Denied