Econ devel/tax reform/job growths are tied together. Our lack of adequate funding for major city departments has greatlty affected job growth. Businesses are not going to invest somewhere that has a high level of costs due to failure to provide the highest level of fire protection. Have you seen a semi truck try to get into the new Dollar General? The poor infrastructure in that area and around the city greatly affects growth.
I am not saying double or triple taxes but if the tax rate had been adjusted over time to keep pace with the cities growth then most issues would already be addressed. Instead we relied on impact fees which are charged to developers and the leaders get to say we keep your taxes low.
The only way to restore home values is by overall city improvement.
We desperately need more public safety. We need our own animal control officer, we presently us the county service but should look into having our own officer. Even if the fine money had to go to county court, it would be worth it to not have dogs roaming at large possibly endangering children. Our fire department has 19 men for two shifts. What more needs to be said about that. Our police are at a ratio of 1.7 officers per 1000 citizens, the national average is 3.0, what more needs to be said? Some of the other candidates are bragging about safe neighborhoods but when we have less than 5 uniformed officers on duty at the height of the day that is a problem.
As for the high school, one of the things we must start doing is to set the city board meetings on days that do not interfere with county meetings. The city manager and at least one alderman should attend every county meeting. Presently, with one exception, no one does.
QUESTION 2: Do you believe property taxes should be increased in La Vergne?
After every option has been tried we must look at this. We have the same tax rate for 30,000 citizens as we did for 18,000. It is real simple; when I was single I had a food budget for one person, now there are five in my home with three growing sons. It would be dangerous and cruel for me to try and have the same food budget with the new reality. The failure to address the tax rate over the last few years is now going to force either cuts or large increases. Metro water and sewer raised the sewer rates yet the cost is being born by every citizen and not included in sewer users bills because that would cause some to not vote a certain way.
QUESTION 3. What is the highest level of education you have completed?
I have about 80 hours of college at Middle Tennessee State, Carson-Newman College and Pellissippi State Tech
QUESTION 4. Many of La Vergne’s Problems have been caused by decisions made by past elected officials and poor administration. While we can’t change the past, we can address past mistakes in order to build a better future. What would you do to restore La Vergne’s good reputation as a desirable place to buy homes, raise families, and entice more jobs?
The only thing you can do is to endeavor to do better. We must set highest of standards for employee selection, conduct and for retaining of employees. We must seek every possible advantage we have and show the best La Vergne we can. In short we must not make excuses, we must make hard choices that enable us to grow and be the best city in the area. The city is still full of potential, we are small enough to have personal service to help a person with some mundane task but we are big enough to have bells and whistles, we must try to be the best La Vergne Now
QUESTION 5. Why should I vote for you?
Because I am not doing this for me, I am doing this for my three sons. I have chosen to live here and have invested here. I will not be owned by certain developers or by outdated ideas. We must make very difficult choices in the months ahead. I am ready to make those choices now. I am not going to take the easy path and guarantee my reelection, I am not going to favor one area of the city over another, I am not going to favor one city department over another. But most important I am going to serve as a legislator, not a dictator and provide guidance for the department heads and not micro manage city operations.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Wilson also sent his extended platform… you can read it after the jump.
- IMMEDIATELY IMPLEMENT SENIOR CITIZEN PROPERTY TAX FREEZE
- WE MUST IMMEDIATELY ADDRESS THE PENDING IMPLOSION AT THE WATER AND SEWER REGARDING RATES CHARGED BY METRO WATER
- THE BOARD MUST STOP INTERFERING IN DAY TO DAY DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS AND FOCUS ON SETTING LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
- NO MORE “UNKNOWN” ROCK QUARRIES, WATER BILLING PROBLEMS OR PREVENTABLE LAWSUITS
- A TOP TO BOTTOM EVALUATION OF EVERY ASPECT OF CITY OPERATIONS BY A PRIVATE CONSULTANT
- A CLEAR DETAILED PUBLISHED MASTER PLAN TO INCLUDE INFRATRUSCTURE INPROVEMENTS
- SURVEY OF CITIZENS TO DECIDE WHAT PROJECTS TO UNDERTAKE, SERVICES TO PROVIDE AND LEVEL OF TAXATION
- STOP PERSONNEL TURNOVER AND PROVIDE A DECENT WAGE FOR ALL EMPLOYEES
IMPLEMENT SENIOR CITIZENS PROPERTY TAX RATE FREEZE
This has been a state law since 2007 and been adopted by forty two local governments. Why has La Vergne failed to adopt this? When adopted senior citizen’s property tax freezes at the level it is when they turn 65 years old and meet certain income levels. This would aid our most financially vulnerable citizens.
ADDRESS WATER AND SEWER BILLING
Beyond the losses to the blue roofed motel/halfway house, the rock quarry and monthly write-offs; Metro Water and Sewer has raised its rates. The city leader has chosen to ignore this cost fearing political loss at the ballot box should he raise rates. Every utility customer should pay a deposit, not connection fees, but deposits which will be held until the final bill is paid.
ENSURE AN OPEN HONEST GOVERNMENT WITH A RESPONSIBLE, ACCOUNTABLE BOARD AND PROFESSIONAL STAFF
The city must stop ignoring water billing problems, rock quarries, codes enforcement, and inexcusable lawsuits. Our city leaders should have the highest level of credentials and strong history of performance before they are hired. Without setting high standards for leaders we cannot set standards for employees. Strong leaders must be placed in city hall to ensure that clearly defined goals are both set and met. Some current city leaders must be replaced. We must have cooperation between city departments to ensure zoning and fire codes are met. We also should try to not schedule city meetings on the same nights as county meetings. A better relationship at the county level will only aid economic development.
INDEPENDENT TOP TO BOTTOM EVALUATION
A private government consulting firm should be hired to conduct a complete audit. I do not believe using another government entity to tell us how to build government is in the best interest of the city. Instead we should put the best business and fiscal practices in place to insure future stability. This audit should include policies, personnel, standards, equipment and all other aspects of the city’s operation.
A survey should be conducted to determine what services the citizens want, where they would like to see improvements and what level of taxation the citizens feel is appropriate.
Based on the survey results, the professional leadership staff should determine long range plans for the city’s future growth. The plans should be for 1, 3, 5, 10, and 25 year ranges. The plans must be followed and the professional staff held accountable for failure. This plan also allows citizens, for the first time ever to possess a barometer to hold the elected officials accountable by seeing that what was promised was also then accomplished. This plan would be published on the city website and available on paper at every city building. A clear vision would aid job creation and positive growth.
IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE SHOULD BE PART OF THE MASTER PLAN
FLOODING ISSUES MUST BE ADDRESSED
Storm water fees must be used to alleviate flooding problems at those locations where it constantly occurs such as Highland at Old Nashville or Fergus at Jones Mill
Stop signs and red lights are not improvements. Road projects should be planned and completed in less than three years not take SEVENTEEN YEARS and allow costs to double or triple like Waldron Road. Did the failure to complete Waldron Road cost the city retail development? We will never know but we must not allow this error to continue as standard practice which prevents the best La Vergne.
The following must be either widened or straightened or have significant intersection upgrades:
1. Realign confusing Charter Place and Centerpointe intersection
2. Finish East Nir Shreibman Blvd
3. Widen Old Nashville Highway
4. Widen Jefferson Pike
5. Widen Waldron Road from I-24 to Rock Springs Road
6. Widen Stones River Road to Hollandale Road
7. Widen Fergus Road to Bill Stewart
8. Widen Dick Buchanan Road
9. Straighten Sand Hill Road near the condos
10. Straighten and realign Fergus Road at Jones Mill Road
11. Straighten Blair Road
These projects should be based on traffic counts to determine order of completion.
Also we must begin to meet future federal standards for signage and road markings instead of paying the higher prices at the last minute
CODES ENFORCEMENT AND CITY APPEARANCE
THE CODES ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT SHOULD BE JUST THAT CODES ENFORCEMENT. Even prominent citizens should not get a pass. The code must be made more detailed and have clear explanations without being oppressive.
The blue roofed motel must be addressed to insure the growth of the Waldron Road corridor.
When future residential or commercial development occurs, that developer should be the cost of infrastructure improvement in the area they wish to profit from.
We also need to improve the entrances to the city. The exit ramps from I-65 in Brentwood and Franklin are neatly landscaped and void of junk signage, what does ours look like? Have you seen the entrance signs for Mt Juliet, Ashland City and others compare that to our little metal sign?
What do you see when you turn into City Hall? A dumpster which is sitting on the grass and seized vehicles. We must improve every aspect of city appearance that we can to attract jobs. Improved appearance and standards will attract better retail opportunities and provide more jobs.
HIRE MORE FIRE FIGHTERS
The private LFD Inc has been a great steward of our tax dollars, however if the department does not grow by at least 18 men, our homeowners’ insurance will go up by at least 10%. Business insurance would increase by an even greater number and be passed along to the citizen consumer. A lower insurance rating for fire protection will also help attract business and jobs due to decreased costs.
SENIORS’ CITIZEN AND COMMUNITY CENTER
Why must our residents go somewhere else for recreation and entertainment? Why don’t we have more festivals than just Old Timers Day? A state of the art community center with pools, a splash pad and exercise amenities could be developed once again using the idea of converting an existing empty warehouse or would using current Veterans Park open space or city hall area be best. This facility would include separate parking, meeting and entrance for senior citizens. A first rate community center will attract more jobs and aid economic development
PARKS AND RECREATION
Our parks are nice but my eight year gets bored at our park. Sure parks are just luxuries some would say, but I say it is a quality of life issue. As previously stated we need a Community Center. But here are some other ideas for Parks:
1. Make Lake Forest Park a park not just a piece of open land
2. Build a playground and park across I-24
3. Include an indoor and outdoor pool at the Community Center
4. Include a splash pad at the Community Center
5. Consider taking over the boat ramps and then building beach.
At the cove where in the summer we could barbeque, swim and enjoy the lake. We have almost 21 miles of shoreline yet no direct connection to the water. How was that allowed to happen?
THE CITY SHOULD COORDINATE OR PROVIDE TRASH AND RECYLABLES PICKUP
NON RESIDENTS SHOULD PAY A SMALL FEE FOR A LIBRARY CARD AND A FEE SHOULD BE ADDED ON LEAGUE TEAMS AT ALL FACILITIES IF MORE THAN HALF THE PLAYERS OR COACHES ARE NOT FROM LA VERGNE
a. I estimate an almost 400 % turnover in some city departments this decade. This is wasteful and dangerous. Why do good employees leave? Why have we had four or five city planners and engineers, four police chiefs, multiple library directors and public works directors? The simple answer is leadership, Board interference and pay. When it is time to replace city leadership we must choose professional extremely qualified leader with a proven track record of fiscal responsibility visionary planning, strong intergovernmental abilities and impeccable credentials.
b. Hiring and firing authority must be returned to the department heads. An elected official should not be autonomous and able to fire at his or her personal whim or to hire less qualified friends. A civil service and retirement overhaul must be considered.
c. Future employees should be encouraged to live within the city as well.
d. Our employees deserve more choices for retirement plans
e. Our employees deserve a wage that keeps them out of the food stamp office.
f. EVERY EMPLOYEE AND THE BOARD SHOULD SUBMIT TO RANDOM ANNUAL DRUG SCREENS. Working for the people is a privilege and not a right, therefore those we honor with this privilege must be above reproach.
We should explore the possibility of the police Reserve becoming animal control officers or hire a full time animal control officer.
The police department should use CRIMEREPORTS.COM for crime mapping
The police department must embrace technology through computer reporting we could save hundreds of man hours and in effect “create “more personnel.
The police department must be properly staffed. National standards recommend 3 officers per 1000 we are at 1.8 per 1000.
The police department must have a fair and impartial promotion system
We should explore using Reserves as Lake and Park patrol
CONSOLIDATE CITY FACILITES
Right now the city departments are spread out over EIGHT different locations and within ELEVEN different buildings well over a mile apart. This is wasteful and confusing; it is time to explore a one stop government complex. Would it be possible to acquire one existing empty warehouse near the interstate and convert that to a state of the art municipal building? Or would building new at the current location make most sense? We could possibly include other county and state offices within this complex to help offset costs.