August 18, 2015 Springfield Tennessee Board of Aldermen
The Springfield board of mayor and aldermen meeting in regular session on Tuesday night August 18 passed a new city ordinance on first reading giving the city Court clerk the authority to charge and collect an administrative fee of $25 on each traffic citation issued for equipment violation or failure to produce proof of insurance violation, when the defendant has the equipment violation corrected and verified by a police officer prior to the case being heard in Springfield city court. Or when the defendant presents proof of insurance to the clerk of the court verifying that the insurance was valid at the time of the violation. (continues below)
The video is currently processing and will be available soon.
The new ordinance also authorizes the clerk to charge and collect an electronic traffic citation fee of five dollars, as court cost for each traffic citation resulting in a conviction and the same shall be paid by the defendant. This fee shall be in addition to all other fees, taxes, costs, and charges, the ordinance says, with one dollar of the fee to be retained and earmarked for computer software and replacement, with the police department receiving four dollars of the amount, to be placed in a special revenue fund to be spent on the electronic citation system, technology, equipment, and repairs, along with replacement and training.
Alderman James Hubbard, who moved for the approval of the ordinance, told Springfield Police Chief David Thompson, “My comment chief is it is fair, and will help bring us into a more standardized, I say compliance, with the Metropolitan other areas of the state”.
Part of the state law authorizing these fees, calls for them to terminate after a five-year period, but Thompson told the board, “We would anticipate that it will be continued and we would come back in five years and proceed further”. The ordinance was unanimously approved by the board.
The board also approved $85,000 for new dispatch software which chief Thompson explained was needed because of some of the problems being experienced with the present software being used.
“We have the entire system sometimes just crash for no reason,” he said. “The software firm that manufacturers and services the software can’t figure out why it does that. You may be in the middle of something and have two or three calls going, the county working on something and the city working on something else, and the whole system crashes. When it crashes we lose all of that data. We lose any reports, any contact information, all of that just goes away and the whole system has to be rebooted. If you have rebooted your system before on your home computer, you understand what an inconvenience and what a problem that is, yet they can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong with the system and why it continues to do that.”
“I’m going to come back to you about e-citations, court management, and things like that, but this is the most critical part of what we do in the terms of reporting and providing information to you, to insurance companies, to the state, all of those things go through this system,” Thompson said.
Perhaps the most significant issue taken up by the board was presented by Springfield city manager Paul Nutting having to do with the city sewer rehab project. Nutting told board members, “as you are aware, we are going to the state revolving fund to finance most of the sewer rehab, and we are asking for as much as $35 million. The advantage of this program is the interest rate is about 1% and you don’t start paying principal and interest until the project is 90% complete which will help us work in our rate changes”.
The first allocation from this fund, would be 19 million in this fiscal year and the city would receive the additional 16 million the following fiscal year, “which is fine, that will work with our cash flow” Nutting added.
There was also unanimous approval by the board of the rezoned of approximately 2.8 acres of property on state Route Highway 76 near the National Guard Armory and across the street from Springfield high school, from agricultural to CS commercial services district. The rezoning is for a proposed location of another Dollar General store which would make four locations in Springfield.
Board members are expecting proposed ordinances in the very near future dealing with animal control after comments by manager Nutting, who asked the board their feelings concerning some amendments to the code dealing with this subject. “We have some issues; we have had some big issues at the greenway. People are letting their dogs run and if they are on leashes, they arevery long leashes, and they are not cleaning up after themselves, and people need to understand the greenway is for human beings and is not really a place designed to walk your animals, although you are welcomed to do that if you will clean up after your animals,” Nutting said.
“Some chords or leashes or as long as 50 feet and that is not controlling your animal,” he continued. “People are allowing their animals to leave their waste on other people’s lawns and not taking care of it and we are going to require people, if you are walking your dog to carry a bag with you or pooper scooper and this helps from an enforcement standpoint. If the animal control officer sees that someone doesn’t have these items they can say something to them initially and take whatever action is appropriate from that point forward.”
Near the conclusion of the meeting the board took time to recognize a very popular city employee, city clerk Connie Watson, who is stepping down from her position after many years of service to the city. “She has done an outstanding job. She knows lots of people around town, a longtime resident of the city, and I want to extend my appreciation to her and to tell her what a pleasure it was to work with her,” the city manager said. Mayor Billy Paul Carneal echoed those sentiments and following his comments she was given a standing ovation by those in attendance.
April 21, 2015 Springfield Tennessee Board of Aldermen
Written by Walter George
ANIMAL CONTROL IN SPRINGFIELD
The issue of animal control within the city of Springfield got a lot of attention when the Springfield board of Mayor and aldermen met on Tuesday night April 21, at Springfield City Hall. A large portion of the 2013 city bond issue proceeds, that officials say are still available, was earmarked for a new animal control facility within the city but there are some problems, primarily cost according to city manager Paul Nutting.
He reminded the board that there had been some brief discussions on how to spend the remaining funds, but pointed out, “$407,567 of the proceeds technically is still pledged to the animal control facility, but I think the feeling of the board is that we need to revisit that.” Nutting went on to say, it’s not just the simple issue of putting a building up. “There are restrictions the city has, and we have to meet our own standards, and it is going to be a relatively expensive proposition. There are things that we can do to modify the facility. Outdoor holding pens, the overflow pens, and other things to make the situation a little better, but if the board chooses not to follow through and spend a lot of money on the animal control facility, I might suggest, we have a number of items that will wind up being in the budget, that we can consider.” Most of those were to be handled with a future bond issue because they are what he called “small projects”.
Following the city manager’s comments, Springfield Mayor Billy Paul Carneal, who was presiding over the meeting, told those in attendance that he has talked to a lot of people that are interested in improving the animal shelter. “The board’s frustration with this project has been simply that we were somewhat overwhelmed with the cost of the original estimate being over $700,000.”
The mayor said, “I can’t tell you how individual board members will vote, but I’m telling you that everyone that I have talked to is very interested in this project. They simply want it to be on a reasonable scale, and we realize, that our own requirements for a commercial building, and that’s what this would fall under, requires that it have a decorative front and other minimum standards that we have set. That forces us to spend more money than we might want to spend, but the issue is not going to go away. There are a lot of animal lovers out there, and I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m pleased with the people that work there and the effort which they are making, but we have to take some action on that and we don’t need to wait forever to do it”.
Later in the meeting, Springfield police chief David Thompson, who is in charge of animal control in the city, presented a complete report on animal care and control to the board.
Thompson pointed out several changes that have been made that greatly altered the way animal care and control does business, and gave both staff and elected officials credit for those improvements. “Before 2013, kennels were frequently at capacity, and animals were being euthanized weekly, with an average of about 629 animals euthanized per year. Animal control was a disposal system for unwanted animals”, the chief said.
Before 2013 an average of only 19 animals per year were adopted through rescue organizations. Virtually no social media was being used to locate pets, owners, adoptions, etc. Thompson said, “some of our goals were to reduce the euthanasia rate, increase adoptions, use social media and foster care, where you have people come in and adopt the animals and temporarily take care of them, plus provide better care for animals, and increase spay and neuter”.
Those were all goals that we had adopted and in 2014 following the new changes, total incoming animals numbered 543 with 322 of those adopted out to rescues, 27 were returned to owners and 83 were adopted from animal control. And over $9300 was collected in fees to help defray the costs involved, which left only 13 animals that were euthanized in 2014.
Thompson concluded his remarks by saying, “the shelter is rarely at capacity now, rescues and foster care provide relief, euthanasia has become a last resort and is used typically for ill or aggressive animals, and social media and partnerships have greatly increased the preservation of animal’s lives”.
Following the chief’s remarks, board members seem to feel there was more consideration of the matter needed and no additional action was taken on the issue at this meeting.
February 24, 2015
Written by Walter George
SHOULD A PROPERTY TAX INCREASES REQUIRE A REFERENDUM
Aldermen Clay Sneed presented a resolution to the Springfield board of Mayor and aldermen when they met on Tuesday night February 24 at Springfield City Hall that called for any future property tax increases in the city of Springfield to be approved by voters on a referendum. The resolution was seconded by Ward 5 aldermen Bruce Head, which lead to Springfield Mayor Billy Paul Carneal, who was presiding over the meeting, asking Alderman Sneed, “Mr. Sneed, on any future property tax increase you are wanting the public to make the decision rather than the board of Mayor and aldermen?” (Continued below)
Sneed who represents Ward 6 of the city responded, “that’s right, most cities, communities who had an organization that was able to get enough signatures to force a referendum, past these things. It is rare to see the setting body of elected officials voluntarily add something like this to a referendum because it handcuffs their ability to spend with no consequence to being able to, sometime later, raise the money to pay for it. This gives more control to the people we serve and I am not afraid to give them that control,” Sneed added. “But that’s why they send us here,” Carneal countered, “and if they don’t like what we do, they can vote us out at the next election”, but Sneed quickly added, “That’s true, but that’s easier said than done”.
“To call for this every time you raise taxes a nickel or a dime, and especially with Springfield’s record over the years of going a dozen years or longer without raising property taxes at all, this would seem unnecessary to me, and that’s my opinion,” the Mayor said. Ward 1 Alderman James Hubbard seemed to be in agreement with the Mayor when he said, “to call for a referendum to impede the growth of this city is ludicrous!”
On the roll call vote, the motion was defeated by a vote of three in favor, Sneed, Head, and Jeff Gragg, and four against, Carneal, Bobby Trotter, James Hubbard, and Ann Schneider.
January 20, 2015
Written by Walter George
The city of Springfield board of Mayor and aldermen met on Tuesday night January 20 at Springfield City Hall for the first time in the new year of 2015. One of the first items on the agenda was a report from the city auditor Jeff Proctor, which was very favorable.
The board approved the minutes for a special meeting that was held December 2, 2014 and the regular meeting held on December 16, 2014. As the board then moved into the legislative portion of the agenda, the first item dealing with the revision of codes having to do with sprinkler systems requirements in the fire district which is located primarily in the downtown area was approved by a vote of 6 to 1, following a discussion of several questions presented by board member Aldermen Clay Sneed. Those questions were, for the most part, answered by planning and zoning director Adam McCormick. The dissenting vote on the resolution was cast by Alderman Sneed.
There was a unanimous vote on second reading of an ordinance changing the time of the starting time for the board’s meetings from 7:30 pm back to 6 pm. Board Chairman Mayor Billy Paul Carneal reminded the board, and all of those in attendance, one additional reading with a favorable vote, would be required before the ordinance would go into effect. If board passes the ordinance on third reading at their February meeting, the new beginning meeting time would be 6 pm in the month of March, he said.
More changes at the legacy golf course are going to be forthcoming with the board’s unanimous approval of an ordinance amending the fees and charges for play at that facility on the recommendation of Cornerstone Golf Partners Incorporated, the present operators of the golf course.
Following some routine board appointments by the aldermen, there was a discussion on a proposal calling for the installation of an additional traffic light at the intersection of Watson Road and Tom Austin Highway, which is Highway 431 south. The proposal was explained by public works director Alan Ellis.
Ellis added the Tennessee Department of Transportation also has plans for a traffic light for Batson Parkway as well as one at Northcrest Medical Center. “The Watson Road location is said to meet all of the criteria for a light, according to TDOT. If the light is installed by TDOT, the Springfield Electric Department would then take over the maintenance and operation.”
If it is not installed as part of the state construction project that is proposed, and the city had to do it later, the cost could be between $150,000 and $200,000. It is still going to be some time before these lights would be up and operating. I am not sure when this project will start Ellis said, “even if it were let this year, the lights would probably go in close to the end of the project and it is going to be fairly massive”.
An attempt by Sneed to amend the proposal to allow for a change in the traffic lights on Memorial Boulevard to blinking lights, between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM was defeated by the board on a 3 to 3 vote with one abstention.
I believe everyone is open to anything we can do to make the traffic flow better, city manager Paul Nutting said, “I really believe the blinking lights is a separate topic, but we really need to give an answer to TDOT as to whether or not, we want the extra light they have proposed at Watson Road”. The board then unanimously approved the proposal for the light during road construction in the area.
The board then watched a lengthy PowerPoint presentation on retail recruitment presented by Retail Strategist, a private company that was proposing to partner with the local Chamber of Commerce in attempts to recruit more retail business.
I feel we already pay for enough qualified and competent people to do what is being proposed by this subcontractor, Sneed told the board members. “This seems to be the Chamber of Commerce trying to contract out some of the work they are supposed to be doing”. Aldermen James Hubbard said he and Alderman Sneed “may be on the same page on this particular item”. Hubbard also added that not having any guarantees was a concern. There was no motion presented about the presentation and no further action was taken.
One of the final items of business for the board, was explained by Mayor Carneal as being a proposal to provide for the security of, and to declare as an official record, the video copy of the board’s meetings and that it would be included with the official minutes. “As it stands now the audio recording is what the minutes are taken from, and these audiotapes are preserved and that is the official record. We consider the audiotapes as the official recording”.
“The minutes reflect action taken on different items. They are motions, they are seconds, and there is the discussion which is recorded but the discussion is not part of the formal minutes”, Carneal said. The motion concerning the videotapes was defeated by a vote of one in favor, and four against, and two abstaining.
On another subject, chairman informed everyone, that Thursday, January 15, Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley and Carneal, representing the City of Springfield, signed the paperwork that conveys the ownership of Highland Crest campus to the state of Tennessee.
“That was our goal all along, which means that no longer does the county or the city have any responsibility for maintenance, upkeep, security, any of that. The building belongs to the state of Tennessee. If they cease to use it, as a community college, it reverts back to the city and the county”, he said.
“Our investment, 3 million by both the county and the city, is being used as it was intended and the cost ends at that. There is no more upkeep or anything else that has to be paid on it by the taxpayers, and we are glad that that has transpired”, the mayor said.
Following a brief report by the Springfield city manager, the meeting adjourned.
December 17, 2014
Written by Walter George
CITY EMPLOYEES HONORED
The Springfield board of Mayor and aldermen met on Tuesday night December 16 at Springfield City Hall and welcomed two new members of the board. Aldermen Bobby Trotter and aldermen Jeff Gragg took their positions after being elected in the November Springfield city election.
The board gave recognition and presented a plaque to retiring Springfield attorney Jim Balthrope for over 20 years of service to the city. Several city employees were recognized for their service with plaques and appreciation envelopes. Those with the longest service included Detective Terry Scott Doris of the Springfield Police Department for 30 years of service and Tiny Mendenhall of the Springfield center for 35 years of service. Three men, who have been employed with the city for 40 years, Springfield assistant police Chief Danny Johnson, Frank Brad Binkley along with Jimmy Lemley both of whom work with the Springfield gas system, were also honored.
The board considered and approved several ordinances dealing with code changes for sprinkler systems and reelected aldermen Ann Schneider to serve as the board’s vice Mayor for another year. The board also approved Christina Bartee and Batson Nolan PLC to serve as the new legal counsel for the board, and made several end of year board appointments.
There will apparently be no consideration of an inquiry into actions by Springfield city manager Paul Nutting, city staff, and elected officials into the editing of approximately 8 minutes of the videotape of the regular meeting of city officials that occurred October 21. Aldermen Clay Sneed, a member of the board, had asked for a second time, to have the inquiry placed on the agenda after questions about the editing of the meeting were raised.
Nutting has offered an apology while at the same time defending an outburst he made during the meeting in October which was a part of the deleted section. The meeting is broadcast to the general public on Comcast cable TV channel 3 as well as other media outlets.
When the item came up on the agenda last Tuesday night, Sneed moved for the board to discuss the matter. Springfield Mayor Billy Paul Carneal who was presiding over the meeting, told Sneed his motion required approval before being discussed. On the roll call vote on the motion Sneed voted yes, along with aldermen Bruce Head and aldermen Gragg. Voting no were Carneal, vice Mayor Schneider, Trotter, and aldermen James Hubbard, which left the motion defeated by a three to four vote, so no discussion was held.
The board also spent a lengthy amount of time discussing a proposed plaque naming contributors and local politicians that would have been erected in the new portion of the library which is under construction in the city. A motion requesting the library board and the County commission to eliminate the plaque and spend the money involved on improvements in the computer room was approved by a 4 to 3 vote. The board also approved an expenditure for heating and air-conditioning at the Bransford community center as well as the replacement of a portion of the center’s roof.
Assistant Springfield city manager Gina Holt gave the board a report on the city employee’s insurance plan. Hold said the city had gone with a self-insured plan for this calendar year to see if the claims that were paid were less than the premium cost they had been paying. Around $55,000 a week in claims has been paid during the past year which is about 2.8 million in total cost, Holt added. “Had the city continued to pay insurance premiums the cost would have been around 3 to 3.1 million, so it appears we do have a savings by going self-insured.’’ “Most of the employees with single coverage that are on the least expensive plan available will be paying about $12 per month more and family coverage about $36 a month more in the new year with all benefits remaining the same including co-pays and deductibles,” Holt said.
Future meetings of the Springfield board of Mayor and aldermen may start earlier than the 7:30 PM start time of the past. Board members were told an ordinance can be prepared which would stipulate future meetings starting at 6 PM local time and that ordinance will be presented on first reading at the January meeting.