Mayor Karl Dean’s administration will soon file legislation to de-authorize all previously approved capital projects so that sometime this summer Metro can start from scratch on a new $500 million spending plan.
Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said the new spending plan would not look “drastically different” than the one last approved by Council in 2007.
Just over a year ago, Riebeling put a freeze on almost all capital projects that weren’t already underway. No new projects have been approved since then and Dean’s administration failed to file a spending plan last summer — which had been the practice of previous Mayor Bill Purcell.
Then came the financial crisis late last year, which froze the municipal bond market and made capital projects impossible for Metro.
With the markets thawing, Riebeling said the timing is right to revisit Metro’s capital projects, but he chose to untangle the current setup before starting anew. He said his “head hurt” analyzing the various accounts and statuses for capital projects.
According to Riebeling, the $500 million capital spending plan presented to Council will include $116 million in new projects. It also will require completing the $130 million in projects already underway.
Although no specifics were provided, the administration provided the following list of capital projects to be included in the spending plan: parks, Fulton complex, riverfront redevelopment, police and fire, Public Works, Metro Transit Authority and schools.
District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman called the move to de-authorize previously approved projects “unprecedented” and said he wanted to see the spending plan released by Dean next week.
District 19 Councilwoman Erica Gilmore questioned Riebeling during the budget presentation on which projects might be eliminated, pointing out that some Council members had counted on certain projects coming to their districts.
Riebeling countered by pointing out the spending plan was a suggestion by the administration and Council would have final approval over which projects get funded.
Among the projects promised by Dean last year was a DNA lab for Metro Police. This year Dean expressed his intention to build a connector road between Jefferson Street and West End Avenue.
Dean has also been supportive of improving mass transit in Nashville by adding bus rapid transit — super-fast buses in dedicated lanes — on busy corridors.