Dean unveils $297.7M capital plan heavy on infrastructure

Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 11:59pm

Mayor Karl Dean provided specifics Thursday on his proposed $297.7 million capital-spending plan, which he plans to officially file in the form of a bond resolution on Friday.

“This plan takes care of the basics of the city, such as renovating and expanding our schools, repairing roads and building sidewalks, and improving our fire halls and police infrastructure,” Dean said in a statement.

The Metro Council will consider the capital plan –– along with a proposed 53-cent property tax increase and a $1.71 billion operating budget –– in June.

Approximately $97 million, one-third of the capital-spending plan, would go to Metro schools to address additions and expansions at existing school buildings.

Another $62 million would go to the Metro Public Works Department, with an emphasis on long-neglected infrastructure needs, including street and sidewalk projects. The Metro Parks and Recreation Department would receive $34 million.

Dean announced what would be one of Nashville’s most robust infrastructure spending plans in years at a media event on Baptist World Center Drive in northeast Davidson County.

There, as part of the capital plan, the mayor has proposed a sidewalk project to connect a neighborhood to Haynes Middle School, American Baptist College, retail areas, bus stops and various transit routes.

According to the Mayor’s Office, the capital plan would address the following:

  • Of the $62 million to the Public Works Department, $30 million would be for paving and road projects and another $12 million for sidewalks and sidewalk repairs.
  • The park department’s $34 million allocation would work out to $15 million for open space acquisition and riverfront redevelopment; $4 million for greenways; $2.5 million for improvements to Shelby Park; and $2 million for improvements to Centennial Park.
  • Metro Transit Authority would receive $37.7 million, the majority of which will fund new and replacement vehicles. This figure also includes $4.8 million for infrastructure to implement Bus Rapid Transit “Lite” on Murfreesboro Road.
  • The Nashville Fire Department would receive $12 million to construct or renovate several fire halls based on their facilities master plan.
  • The Metro Nashville Police Department would receive $10 million, the majority of which will be used for lab equipment and other forensic needs to build out a new DNA Crime Lab.
  • The Nashville Public Library would receive $10 million, the majority of which would be used to construct a new branch library in Bellevue.
  • The Metro codes department would receive $5 million to upgrade development services software used to assist contractors, home and business owners during building projects.

30 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 5/25/12 at 4:57

Funny how he anounced the tax increase first, THEN, after allowing the citizenry to digest, debate, and debase the scheme, decides to unveil a previously 'secret' plan.

I seem to recall this same plot line in several TV sitcoms. The usual scenario is the bumbling husband, a Fred Flintstone type character, finds himself in hot water for spending too much, then, when confronted by the wife, reveals, pretending to be upset for having to spoil a surprise, pulls some outlandish tale from thin air, usually to do something the wife has been nagging him to do forever.

The line about "long neglected" begs the question "why?" Why was this so long neglected, and the MCC, fairgrounds speedway, and corporate welfare made a priority?

I know, I'm viewed as a crusty old stick in the mud, who would have us living by candle light and driving horse drawn carts.

I suppose I'm also typing on a gas driven computer, right?

I just question the priorities of our Mayor and Metro Council. Why weren't the needs of the common citizen placed above all others?

Oh well, time to go earn money to pay the property extortion, er, I mean tax I see the council cowardly passing.

Be honest, am I the only one who thinks Mayor Dean looks a lot like Fred Flintstone?

By: spooky24 on 5/25/12 at 6:35

Perhaps Marshall Stalin's paranoia is closer than FF. Knowing full well that outside the intercity, with it's liberal base, Dean knows his political future is quite dim. His tax, borrow and spend policies, along with his political machine financed by his in-laws wealth will go no where on a state level. The republican dominance of state government is forecast to become even more pronounced as Tennessee voters are simply fed up with continued borrowing of money, either through shaky bond issuance, refinancing of debt with no representative input, illegal Enron style mark to market accounting tricks in the Metro finance department or simply using media culpability to advertise a need of the moment crisis.
I am no fan of the current Governor nor the State Legislature however the writing is on the wall as Democrats continue to offer no one, no policy nor even any hope to stop the cycle of tax and borrow to buy votes-just like at the national level.


By: Kosh III on 5/25/12 at 6:54

Sidewalks are good but where will they go, aside from the two mentioned?

I just spent a few minutes digging thru and the Mayor's page: none of the details are posted. Can't they afford a webmaster?

Article says:
"The park department’s $34 million allocation would work out to $15 million for open space acquisition and riverfront redevelopment; $4 million for greenways; $2.5 million for improvements to Shelby Park; and $2 million for improvements to Centennial Park"

Hmmm, 34 million; 15+4+2.5+2 equals 23.5 million. Where's the other 10.5 million in the parks dept?

Haven't we spent enough on downtown already?

By: govskeptic on 5/25/12 at 7:01

The evening TV news is so exciting with the good Mayor and his Merry Band
of followers walking and talking about how this .53 cents will solve the many
problems that have cropped up while a fortune has been spent on other
projects over the past few years! Downtown Partnership reports everything
is "Peachy"!

By: Beernazi on 5/25/12 at 7:12

Well, Dean's work seems to be paying off:

By: MusicCity615 on 5/25/12 at 7:51

Great post Beernazi.

When is council going to vote on the East / West connector? We need that built NOW. Nashville HAS to invest in mass transit of all forms NOW!!!

By: EasyWriter on 5/25/12 at 8:01

I can't help but notice how often the opponents of the tax increase rely on misinformation, though I'm not sure whether it's intentional or not. Ask01 cites the fairgrounds speedway, which receives no Metro dollars, and the new convention center, which also receives no money from the city's general fund. It's financed entirely by a dedicated revenue stream not available for other purposes.

Why were these things long neglected? Because the mayor didn't want to ask for a tax increase in the midst of the Great Recession. This mayor's gone longer without a tax increase than any mayor in Metro history, I believe.

And, Ask01, the capital budget is always released after the operating budget. Nothing sinister there. Don't ask me why, but that's always been the practice.

Kosh III, maybe they can't afford a webmaster to post things as quickly as you like. They're cutting expenses to the bone, as you wish. It's like "don't spend money on anything except my priorities."

I support the mayor's proposal.

By: Beernazi on 5/25/12 at 8:38

Good informative post, EasyWriter. Taxes are inevitable. If you want a good, functioning city and you want services, you have to pay taxes. Plain and simple. And frankly, our property taxes are VERY reasonable considering the size of Nashville. Go to other cities and find out what property taxes are like outside Nashville.

By: Beernazi on 5/25/12 at 8:40

More people are living and working downtown since Dean has been in office. All of that generates tax revenue. The investment is paying off.

By: Left-of-Local on 5/25/12 at 9:29

Yep. Sounds like just an AWFUL collection of TERRIBLE liberal commie things that we just don't need.


...or maybe this city is growing up, and the people here need to grow the hell up, too. Looks like a good plan to me.

By: Beernazi on 5/25/12 at 9:57

I support this plan. I own property in Davidson County and make no qualms about a property tax increase. You get what you pay for.

By: MusicCity615 on 5/25/12 at 11:16

I support the plan as well, but I also want more cuts to metro.

By: Beernazi on 5/25/12 at 11:44

What would you like to see cut?

By: NewYorker1 on 5/25/12 at 11:52

Ok, I own a home in Green Hills and I pay way above average property taxes. I also own my own business so I pay taxes there too. Nothing in this plan sounds like it will personally benefit me. I don't have children in the public school system, I don't' ride the bus, I don't walk on the side walks, I'm black so I wouldn't dare call the cops for anything because regardless of the situation I will be blamed for it. What is in this budget for me?

By: Beernazi on 5/25/12 at 11:54

Oh, NY! - you're starting to sound like a Republican. You're scaring me! LOL

By: EasyWriter on 5/25/12 at 12:03

NY, the people riding the bus are not driving their own cars, thereby reducing congestion for you. Same for those walking on the sidewalks. They're also reducing pollution so you can breathe cleaner air. The kids in public schools are getting an education so they can be productive members of society instead of becoming vagabonds, bums and criminals. The budget helps keep 200 police officers on the payroll so you can live in a safer neighborhood. Shall I go on?

By: yucchhii on 5/25/12 at 2:25

Can somebody tell me why is it when a plain ordinary person like me tells tou that something bad is going to happen and tells you HOW it will happen and WHO will make it happen...because this PLAIN ORDINARY PERSON "SEES" IT all sit there saying "Your nuts". Well as this progresses and many of you become "HOMELESS" and have no other way to get yourself back on your feet because the police harrass you and purposely mess with you and turn your police record from a clean slate to looking like a criminal. I WILL TURN AND LOOK AT YOU AND SAY...."I TOLD YOU SO!!". Yeah ok, I'm nuts...for NOW! We'll see later!!

By: EasyWriter on 5/25/12 at 5:04

yucchhii, watch out for the black helicopters. They're coming to get you.

By: Ask01 on 5/25/12 at 7:44

EasyWriter, I do find having to explain everything tiresomne, however, to educate folks allow me to clarify.

As far as the speedway, of course it receives no tax dollars. Mayor Dean devoted significant effort to destroying the speedway and fairgrounds so he could, well, he never said exactly what the plan was except for some short snippet about a greenway or park. Our mayor just wanted to be able to do 'something' with the farigrounds as I recall out of concern for the nearby residents, who, by the way, knew the fairgrounds and raceway were close by when they bought the property.

The MCC receives, so we've been told, no tax money YET. If the projected revenue stream is insufficient to cover expenses, guess who foots the bill? No, not Mayor Dean, Metro Councilmembers and the business community who will profit from the center. The citizens will have to pay tax dollars which could have been used on other projects benefitting more than just the down town area.

His concern for these two issues seemed to override concerns for schools and public safety so that he allowed the situation to become critical.

Please read more carefully before putting fingers to keyboard.

Oh, and I do hate the moronic excuse "It's always been done that way." That phrase should be stricken from the language as it is the equivalent of zero tolerance policies and the Nuremburg Defense of "I was just following orders." The horrid catch all phrase is the lazy, fearful persons 'out' to avoid making a decision, or taking responsibility for actions, attempting to shift blame to some obscure supposedly omnipotent 'them' who made the rule and cannot be taken to task to change.

I do not support Mayor Dean, or any proposal he has ever presented.

He should accept responsibility for the financial mess he created by accepting strings attached money, and ignoring long neglected issues, prefering to pursue pet projects

We threw our council representative out of office for supporting Mayor Dean, and if my vote had been the swing vote, Karl would be ex mayor now. I did my part to fire him.

By: JayBee56 on 5/25/12 at 9:06

Ask01, an excellent post. Times have changed, yet politicians are still pulling the same old excuses. The reality is that we either cut now while we have the luxury to decide or have it forced upon us some months/years down the road. We need visionaries in office - people who are interested in not doing the same old thing, but who think out of the box and work for the people instead of themselves or special interests. If those who had voted to keep the fairgrounds had also voted against Mr. Dean, he would have been forced into a runoff. Now that would have certainly been different!

By: Loner on 5/26/12 at 7:08

Great post Ask01.

The Mayor's plan sounds very sketchy, short on details, hastily conceived, expensive and probably misdirected....other than that, it's fine....fine, if you are a sweetheart-type contractor licking his chops.

Demand the details...who will get what from whom and when will they get it?...just for starters.

Will the bidding be open, honest and fair?

Are there built-in safeguards to protect against cost-overruns.

One much public input went into the Mayor's proposal?

Who decided upon the priorities?

Mayor Dean is bound and determined to get that tax hike...he tried the stick... threatening to fire cops and he tries the "carrot". You gotta give the man credit for his tenacity.....but he needs to work on his transparency.

By: EasyWriter on 5/26/12 at 9:18

Ask01, the fact remains that none of the tax increase is to support the speedway. Additionally, none of the tax increase is to support the Music City Center. You seemed to suggest that the need for tax increase was because other priorities were "neglected" in favor of these projects. Even if the speedway and MCC didn't exist, the need for the tax increase would be the same because neither one receives subsidy from the city's general fund.

You are concerned about a possible future tax increase for MCC, but none of the current tax increase is for that purpose. Moreover, the dedicated revenue stream for MCC is running above projections, so the possibility of general tax revenues being used for the MCC is more remote than ever.

You attempted to suggest something sinister because the capital budget was released after the operating budget. I simply said that it's standard operating procedure, so there's nothing sinister involved. If someone can make a case to change it, go ahead. I don't care. But to impute malevolence when someone follows custom is a stretch.

But, based on your patronizing tone toward me and your derogatory remarks about the mayor, it would seem you're not really interested in dwelling on the facts and the merits of the budget but would rather sling mud to prevent an honest debate of the real issues.

By: Ask01 on 5/26/12 at 5:40

Oh please, EasyWriter, is comprehension a skill you've not yet mastered?

Let me spell this out once more.

I know the speedway receives no tax dollars. OK? Clear?

Mayor Dean is obsessed with the destruction of the facility for whatever nefarious plans he keeps locked away, so why would he allow any money to be spent there?

My point, which seems to have escaped you, is he expended so much effort trying to acheive his goal of bulldozing the facility, he was distracted from actually doing his job, meaning seeing the adequate upkeep of schools and efficiently managing the city's money.

I even admitted the MCC is not YET receiving tax dollars, and you cannot make any promises that the current PROJECTED revenue stream will actually materialize and be sustained throughout the duration the facility is being paid off.

My remarks toward you were not intended to be patronizing. Condescending, perhaps, as it seems you intentionally twisted my words. I stand by them and offer even more for your reading pleasure.

Derogatory remarks about Mayor Dean? Call it what you will, I only exercise my constitutionally protected rights to express my opinion and address what I consider to be major failings of our elected employees. You should actually hear some of the comments I overhear on the bus about your hero.

Mud slinging? Maybe, but I only offer in return what I receive. Twisting my words around can bring out the bad side of me.

I can see however, you are not interested in addressing facts either.

Have a nice day, and don't bother to write.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/29/12 at 3:45

One hates to make guesses about the worldly and financial status of people making posts on a newspaper forum based on their comments. I cannot help but think that the people who support the tax increase and the spending habits of Karl Dean are those who pay the least amount of taxes.

By: Jughead on 5/29/12 at 8:15

karl Marx Dean believes in a Greek style gov't. You can never spend enough, and you can never tax enough.

Keep your dang hands out of my pockets, you liberal socialist. Have your millionaire wife kick in some extra, puke.

By: Jughead on 5/29/12 at 8:16

Yep--Karl wants us to work extra hours each day so he can spend it on his friends. Sweet.

Yet, he goes back to his mansion in Belle Mead each night and laughs at the gullibility of Joe Sixpack.

By: OHSMAN74 on 5/29/12 at 1:07

Mayor Dean does not live in what most people would call a "mansion" nor in Belle Meade. Not that it would matter if he did.

I'm glad that we've got a mayor who's got the backbone to tell us we need a tax increase and put up with all this moaning, disinformation, and character assasination as a result. It would be easier for him to just let the city decline and let the next mayor deal with it.
I just hope the Council members have as much backbone as he does.

When I read these posts, I understand why many good people are reluctant to run for office.

By: think on 5/29/12 at 8:45

This conversation (if you can call it that) is pointless. Your belief in whether or not this tax increase is a good thing is just a reflection on who you would like to determine the future of Nashville. The more of your income that goes towards taxes, the more that your life will be impacted by the government.

Those that think the government knows best or at least agree with the mayor's agenda (not a derogatory term, we all have an agenda) would like to see more funds go to that government. Those that don't intend to ride the bus, open a tourist trap downtown or send their kids to public schools would rather spend their money improving their own lifestyles by investing in private schools and businesses that serve the communities where they live.

I personally do not support the tax increase because the extra $100 million it will generate will do a lot of damage to the renters in Davidson County and will not benefit those folks much at all. You are making it more expensive to live in the city, which means people will have less money to spend on local restaurants and shops. Property owners will pass the increased costs onto renters and fewer people will be able to afford to live next to all of these wonderful luxuries we now label necessities.

Nashville also has a very unique dynamic in that none of the major employers are downtown. Think about it for a second... We are trying to develop a downtown that very few people who actually live in Nashville ever use.

In my opinion, that is where Dean is losing folks. There are those that share his idealism and believe that Nashville will one day change to be a downtown centered city, while others realize that so much investment has already gone into the decentralization of industry that a bustling downtown is still in the pipe dream phase. Until they build their first urban grocery store, living downtown is a joke. Until people actually live downtown, the tax payers would rather not see all of their money go towards impressing tourists.

That was a bit long-winded, but hopefully it provides some insight into this side of the debate.

By: BigPapa on 5/30/12 at 7:01

I dont begrudge Dean his list of wants, however these are things that we should have been taking care of before many of the extras he's dealt with during his first term. Again, his list is like a guy coming home from Disneyland, then begging you for money to fix his roof and buy him groceries.

His priories have been completely backwards, and now it's time to pay the piper.

By: Jughead on 5/30/12 at 7:37

EVERY OTHER BUSINESS in Davidson County has to reduce spending, yet Karl Marx Dean just wants to spend,spend,spend.....OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

Jerk. And I voted for the moron. Last time I ever vote for a democrat.

And, you sheeple who blindly follow your socialist leader---get a brain.