Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Council Preview: Community Benefit Agreement, Workforce Development and Divvying Up Reserves

Posted by on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 9:30 AM

It's the first or third Tuesday of the month, which means the Metro Council convenes this evening at the Metro Courthouse. You can read the whole agenda here.

— A resolution on tonight's consent agenda would appropriate $14 million from the reserve fund known as the 4 percent fund. The money will go to various Metro departments to be used on maintenance, repairs and equipment.

We reported on this resolution over at The City Paper (RIP) when the mayor's office filed it earlier this month. The analysis provided by council attorney Jon Cooper offers more details on how the funds will be used by each department (after the jump):

Sheriff's Office: $1,050,000 for a new mobile booking unit and elevator repairs in the criminal justice center.

General Services: $6,336,000 for new and replacement fleet equipment, building maintenance and roofing.

Information Technology Services: $2,425,900 for new and replacement hardware, software, and equipment.

Juvenile Court: $43,400 for bullet-proof vests, uniform items, and pistols.

Health: $1,302,400 for new medical equipment at the Lentz health center and HVAC repairs at the animal control facility.

Municipal Auditorium: $340,000 for seat refurbishing and various dressing room and foyer improvements.

Public Library: $1,900,000 for books, periodicals, library materials, furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Parks and Recreation: $285,400 for new equipment and opening of the Southeast and Sevier community centers.

State Trial Courts: $180,000 for replacement audio/visual technology upgrades.

Tennessee State Fair: $350,000 for replacement of the annex building and miscellaneous repairs to roof, gutters, floors, and walls.

— Councilwoman Erica Gilmore will introduce a bill establishing a Community Benefit Agreement. The policy would require that a certain percentage of jobs on publicly funded construction and development projects go to local workers with employment barriers, who live in low-income zip codes. The idea arose out of opposition to the mayor's bus rapid transit project, The Amp, and frustrations about how it will leave out economically depressed areas of the city.

But the bill is hardly getting the support it needs out of the gate. As the Tennessean's Michael Cass reported this weekend, Finance Director Rich Riebeling declined to sign the bill — which would have affirmed the availability of funding for the proposal — and said there are concerns about whether the proposal is legal. DEVELOPING.

— The jobs proposal on second reading is the one backed by the mayor's office. Some details from a recent issue of the Scene:

The new program, proposed by councilmen Jerry Maynard and Lonnell Matthews, aims to provide job training and placement for Nashville residents in projects that have received economic incentives from Metro. (As of press time, the legislation was expected to pass on first reading.) The program would set a goal of seeing 20 percent of the construction budgets on those projects spent go to small businesses owned by women and minorities. For local job-seekers, Maynard tells the Scene, the program would assess a person's skills, provide necessary training, and function as a sort of clearinghouse, connecting companies with a pool of willing local laborers.

As proposed, the program does not have a minimum requirement for local workers to be used on a project. And in the article excerpted above, I wondered whether a formal suggestion would be enough to get corporations to try to hire local workers. Maynard described the approach to us like this:

"It's more of a carrot approach as opposed to a stick approach. The carrot is, you can hire great local residents who are eager to work and will be loyal employees."

Two memorializing resolutions to note:

— From At-Large Councilmen Charlie Tygard and Ronnie Steine, a resolution recognizing Billy Lynch, who retired last week after 45 years in Metro government.

— From Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, a resolution urging Congress to end Sequestration "and balance the federal budget in a way that will create jobs and strengthen our communities." Therefore, be it resolved:

The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as calling upon the United States Congress to:
1. Adopt Federal budget policies that prioritize the revitalization of the economy, the creation of millions of new jobs, and a return to broadly-shared prosperity;
2. Avoid cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits, or the shifting of costs to state and local governments;
3. Resist cuts to the safety net or to vital services for the most disadvantaged members of society; and
4. Restructure our tax system so that wealthy Americans and corporations pay their fair share.

Do note, of course, that this means...nothing. Still, if it's passed, a copy will be sent to U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and to Representatives Marsha Blackburn and Jim Cooper.

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