Liveblogging The Meeting: 6/7/2011

5:54 Thanks to Mike Catanese, (again) I’m back liveblogging the Board of Mayor & Alderman meeting again! Yay for cool people with cool equipment! Thank you!! UPDATE: I also have failed to thank Cathy Catanese. She’s Mike’s wife and has been doing thr running around, making sure I got the equipment. Thank you so much, Cathy, and it was a pleasure meeting you tonight.

6:02 People are starting to roll in. Nothing exciting happening yet except I’m sitting here with Jason Cole & Bad Laura. And now Debbie Heughan and a bunch of other people we like!

6:10 PM. A lot of people are staring at us over here in the corner. I’m not sure if they’re blinded by our collective beauty or our fabulous shoes. Or Jason’s shine. Hmmmm.

6:17 We’re tee heeing about that guy Weiner and his scandal, and the ex-Governator and his scandal. I’ll be back.

6:22 The fire marshall said we were approaching capacity and if someone leaves they will let someone else come in, and you’ll have to wait in line to get back in. Let’s pray I don’t have to pee.

6:30 Mayor Mosley is starting the meeting. She says we have 5 minutes to speak. Steve Mayer says we are to refrain from outbursts, booing and cheering. Okay.

6:31 Mr. Mayer is reading comments from a citizen who couldn’t make it. She says the city must be made to work through the budget constraint. Additionally, the city should charge people on the purchased value of the home.

6:32 Mr. Campbell is speaking now. He says it is outrageous and there are too many senior citizens on fixed incomes to raise taxes. He is concerned that people cannot afford this. He said that if there is a raise it should be gradual. He said he’s lived through hard times and he has overcome them by cutting back and the city should do the same. He states again that if there is a raise it should be gradual and not at one time so people could gradually come to afford it. He said his budget cannot stand any more increases. He says he doesn’t know how many people have parents in this city or grew up in hard times. He knows what struggling is. He asks the board to reconsider what they are voting for. It should be put to the citizens to vote on an increase. He says they should vote their conscience but look at the citizens before they vote, because they cannot stand an increase.

6:37 Marvin (someone) is also asking for the board to vote against the tax increase. He says an increase like this is unfair. He says he would not locate a business here because of the taxes. 85% of his taxes go to the county, and he doesn’t know what they go for. He said we should do away with the city if they can’t live in a budget, like Lakewood. The citizens are not an open bank account for the city to draw from any time. He says we are not Smyrna. He said we are a small city and he would like to keep it that way. He challenges the department heads to discern between needs and wants and the city should hold a referendum and do away with the city and let the county take over. o.O

6:41 Tori Venable is speaking now. She says the raise is too high. 20 cents would be more doable, but the 50 cent increase is just too high. She says she understands why people want more services. She states that they have overspent by 1.2 million in just one year. (?) She says everyone cuts back in times like that. She says she understands why we want more police and fire, but we do not want a 50 cent increase. Either do it incrementally or do it by 20 cents.

6:44 (I totally did not hear this guy’s name.) He says there is a surplus of 17 million dollars. o.O

6:45 (I didn’t hear this guy’s name either) He says he would like to point out one thing about morals, shelter is a basic human right. He says if this tax rate increases people could lose their homes because everything is going up. He states he doesn’t have a 5 year plan because of the increases. He says God is on the side of the poor and when you oppress the poor (I missed the last part, sorry)

6:47 Scott Hudson states to be able to afford to live here he has to travel a hundred miles to work. He says if the taxes go up, he is packing up and moving. He drove 100 miles to come here and it is hard enough to support a family. He wants to know if they are trying to “piss us all off at one time”. He says a lot of people on this board this will be their last year. He says that every police car is a 2010 or newer. He lives on a street where people drive over 100 miles per hour. He bought a radar gun to clock it. And he lives next door to an alderman. He says this happens on an hourly basis. He says you could sit 10 police cars there and every single one would be able to ticket people. (I’d like to know where this is, I love to drive fast)

6:51 Tony Vanatta is speaking now. He says that Senna has been asking for years where all this money has been going, she has been asking for people’s support. He says that people are talking about her like she is a dog. He says she has busted her butt for La Vergne.

Oooh, Officer Staats just pointed at someone and told them to keep quiet.

Tony says that how was the budget balanced if they were taking from the rainy day fund all this time. He says that this has been coming a long time. Now he’s saying something about not liking Tom Broeker at first. He says Senna does not lie, he knows her. (I agree) He is talking about how she helps out with people, no matter whether it’s a busted sewer line or the flood. She’s taking up for the city workers, the police. Now something about Mark Moshea and all the lawsuits. (Sorry, I’m having a hard time keeping up here) He says “that man right there” (pointing at Ronnie Mosley) has worked all his life and that is how Senna has repaired her house.

6:56 Debbie Heughan is stating that she is tired of La Vergne being the armpit of Rutherford County. She is a one income person who is a single mom. She says she allows God to help her through every day, God gives her what she needs. She says she is tired of living in a no-class town because there are not enough police. She says she was unable to be insured because of the bad rating La Vergne has. She says $10 a month is much cheaper than $29.99 a month for an alarm, more police officers are just what this city needs. She says use your own head and quit listening to gossip. She says to read the budget yourself. She asks what could they possibly cut. Police? Fire? She says people should use their own minds. The city’s broke, there’s a reason the city is broke, and you can’t blame everyone on the board. There are 3, maybe 4 exceptional people on the board. We should get down on our knees and thank God for Senna Mosley.

(the police officer called time)

7:03 I missed this gentleman’s name. He says he was a purchasing manager at Nissan. He wants to know what we’re getting, he is not opposed to the tax increase if there is a return on it. He would like to know where we could find out what is in the budget. (hint: it is on the front page of the city’s website. It has been there for the last couple of weeks. I’m just saying.)

7:05 This guy says the taxes have been going up for years. (Again, I missed his name but I think he said he owns merchandise liquidators.) He suggests cutting the mayor’s salary ($15,000) in half. He states that he doesn’t think Bridgestone pays taxes. He said that Mr. Gafford owns the fire department and the current staff should take a pay cut to hire more firemen. He states that the tornado sirens are just too expensive and maybe only one at the park is necessary. He says there were 8 police officers here, were they on overtime?

7:09 Again, I missed this guy’s name. He’s wearing very cool overalls. He says that there was a time when $5 a day was good money. He’s very hard to hear, I’m sorry, I’ve missed nearly all of what he’s said. He said that he wishes the citizens could vote on the tax increase. That’s about all i caught,. I apologize.

7:10 There is a lady in a purple shirt. She says that she knows we need more police and firemen, but lavergne is still a depressed area as far as employment and this tax increase coming on the heels of the water and sewer increase is a hard thing to swallow. She called it a “monster tax increase.”

7:12 Mary (something) is up. She says she moved here in 1961 or 1962. They had to fight to get Roy Waldron,. they had to fight to get the other schools and city water down to her house. She said they had to haul water every day to get water to her house when she first moved here. Now they’re trying to fight to get sewage. She is against the tax because we just had an increase on the sewer and water. She says she knows it has to be done and we have the finest police force. She says La Vergne has room to grow and she’d like to see it grow but not with a tax increase. She says it really will hurt for those on fixed incomes.

7:15 Guy in a purple shirt would consider tabling it tonight and consider what they could take out and put things off further, he says the room is divided between Mosley supporters and Dennis Waldron supporters, but he is a supporter of La Vergne. (nice! I like!)

7:16 (I am so sorry about missing people’s names, it goes by too fast….and I missed this guy entirely.)

7:17 Dale (something, lady in a striped shirt) states that if the taxes are raised that lavergne will be a ghost town.

7:18 Anne (something) Cox is here to ask questions. She wants to know if they are going to keep from raising the taxes on senior citizens. Steve Mayer says that is a rhetorical question, please share her thoughts. She is hard to hear but I think she is in favor of freezing the taxes for senior citizens. She wants to know the percentage of the tax raise will go to police & fire.

7:21 James Rose is speaking now. He is a former city police officer. He says we definitely need more police. He says the more people move here from Davidson county that crime goes up. He says that until we get a tax increase nothing is going to change.

7:22 Linda Tomlin is speaking now. She says we may need more police and fire but we also need more jobs in lavergne. Her former place of employment closed up shop and she does not have a job. She says people are making fun and saying they have jobs, but some people do not. This should be done a little at a time to give people a halfway decent chance to be able to stay in their homes and feed their children.

7:23 (I think she said her name is Vonda) she says the taxes would be a major hardship. ( missed most of what she said)

7:25 Edward Jones (I think) is speaking now. He says there is a bad crime problem and he thanks Mayor Mosley for standing up and bucking the good ol’boy system. He says that we need to look at getting businesses to pay more taxes, something about some business only paying $14 a year since 2006. (I missed some of what he said) He says we need more police officers and cites several instances of crime recently. He says he could cut the Tennesseean out of his budget to pay for the tax increase, it’s the same old shit every day anyway. He says there are ways people could cut their budgets. He says the builders are most of the problems with Lake Forest.

7:29 (I missed what she said entirely)

7:30 A woman who is a senior citizen is talking about how prices have gone up so high that senior citizens might have to starve themselves so they can afford to live. She would like to see if senior citizens can get a freeze on their taxes. She says that people can’t really trust city councils to do what they say they are going to do.

7:32 A former military gentleman states 100% increase is too much.

7:33 A man in support of the taxes. I think he said his name was Woody.

7:33 A gentleman in a red shirt says these taxes are really going to hurt. He is a senior and he flatly cannot afford it.

7:35 Brian Wilbur. He says that sitting on the Alderman side of the table is extremely difficult. He says he doubled his business this year because he hired a bunch of new employees. He says now is
NOT the time to duck and cover. He encourages the Mayor and Aldermen to not squander the trust of the citizens of La Vergne.

7:36 A lady in a white shirt says she would not like a tax increase either, however, we really need more police. She says sometimes there may only be 5 policemen patrolling the streets at any time. She says we need to think of the safety of our city. She says the city budget has been posted on the city website for a long time. (THANK YOU!!!!!) She is stating the safety of our officers should be in our minds as well. She says we should stay and pay attention in the meeting. Do your own due dilligence, she says. We all want a safe environment for our family. (WELL SAID!!!)

7:39 A guy in a salmon shirt says something about the budget is not about safety.

7:40 The second woman that spoke is back up and says that the city should make the city employees pay some for their own healthcare. And the city recorder and the city administrator are making 16,000 more than was budgeted for.

7:43 The gentleman who was up before and asked for people to consider that God is on the side of the poor.

7:43 Jason Cole says he works 2 jobs and he is for the taxes. He says people are always talking about crime and they need more police to provide those services.

7:44 A lady is speaking about the employee health insurance. Consider not increasing what the city pays. And cut bonus pay. She had a copy of the budget with her.

7:45 A woman says she is not for or against the tax increase because (I think, this is hard to hear) but the police have ruined her life. The police escorted her out, because this is a forum to speak about the taxes, not to air personal grievances against the police.

7:48 Steve Mayer closes the public forum.

8:01. They said we were taking a 5 minute break about 10 minutes ago. Woot, they’re starting up the meeting.

8:04 A very nice prayer from Alderman Green, and the pledge.

8:04 Mayor Mosley…umm, I missed that, sorry.

8:05 The fire department is doing some kind of accounting of…uhhh. Something. Now the police. Oh, monthly activities of each department, fire and police. 24 drug related offenses. Interesting.

8:06: Codes. They issued 2 single family dwelling permits, 3 garage & sheds. 368 calls for tall grass. Oh! This stuff is actually up on the wall behind me.

8:08 Parks and Rec. Attendance is up. She thanks Ricky McCormick and Chris Farmer for donating their time for medical services. Average visitor per car is 2.5. She is listing meetings, which are also up on the city website.

8:10 Finance. Sales tax has been higher than budgeted, that is good news. But in the general fund, expenses have exceeded revenue and in the water department, expenses have also exceeded revenue. Partly because of the lawsuit, the sewer rate previously being too low, and chemicals have been more expensive.

8:12 Library report. Library attendance has been up as have the amount of books checked out. There are some great programs that they have done and they are having some great ones coming up as well.

8:14 Water Dept. Consumption is basically the same as last year. The rest is about chemicals and it is all very science-y, so forgive me for being a tad lost. They had 6 complaints about the water, I caught that. Wow, Dennis Waldron is chattier than I have ever seen him. He’s asked questions of nearly every department.

8:18 Public Works. Oh, hey we got 651.5 man-hours from the workhouse. I guess they do make people in the workhouse work.

8:19 Apparently there is fun stuff happening. The mayor says they’re building the morale of the city employees, here is employee of the month: Kyle Brown. Thank you for all your hard work!

8:22 Cecil (get last name later) is retiring and Mayor Mosley is honoring him. He gets a standing ovation. Thank you also. sir, for your hard work.

8:23 2 police officers are receiving awards for saving Sgt. Burl (?) Chip Davis. For being the one of the first officers on the scene of a shooting and saving the life of the shooting victim. Officer Sheree Robertson being one of the first officers on the scene of a shooting and preserving the life of the victim until emergency personnel could come onto the scene.

8:27 Motion to pass the budget. Waldron motions to deny, Alderman Green seconds. They open the floor for discussion. Alderman Waldron says this is just too much at this time. He says if we pass this tax increase tonight the city will go on a spending spree. o.O He says we need to come back with a lower rate. He says he’s been studying on this for 2 weeks. He says he hopes it passes, but kill it. Alderman Green says she knows we need to do it but she wishes it would be done gradually. Wadron states that he wasn’t at the workshop. He says that when Alderman Green was mayor, she tried to pass a tax increase but he was against it. He thinks to get by now we should raise it a little bit. He says this board has wasted a ton of money since they were voted in.

Alderman Broeker wants to know what this board has spent. He said they have spent 4 million dollars beacause of his lack of action on the water department and even more on the lawsuits. He wants to know what has been spent frivolously since he sat on the board.

Waldron says that there were 2 positions that were made since 2010. And badges, and photos and old timer’s festival. “When you don’t have it, don’t spend it.”

Mosley said they needed to clean up city hall and it was just filthy.

Mosley said there are pages and pages and pages where the previous mayor spent money on the city credit card at restaurants with 100% tips and many car washes. Senna said she cleaned up the carpets with her own stuff.

Y’all, you will have to watch this on Channel 3 because this is good and I’m only able to type bits of it.

Also the floor is falling in at the water treatment plant and if they had fixed it before, it would be a lot cheaper.

Ooooh, argument.

Broeker: “I inherited a mess, sir.”

Waldron is talking about the achievements of the previous administration.

Broeker is questioning him about this. He says they worked their tails off for 2 and a half months, continuously. He says Waldron looked for 2 weeks.

I just laughed a bit too loudly. Waldron said there are reserves, he said there is $5000. Heh.

Broeker says they are trying to provide services with no money. He is asking Waldron why they have never tried to raise taxes before if he wanted a gradual increase.

Mosley called the vote. There is some confusion with Alderman Green about whether she is voting to deny or to approve. Green voted yes. Farmer voted no, Waldron yes, Broeker no, Mosley no.

So the motion to deny did not pass.

Broeker says he would like to see about finding a way to help seniors, freeze the tax. Green says there is a way to get your taxes frozen and lowered, it is from the county. She says she knows it has to be done.

Motion to approve, and a second. Roll call vote. Green, states this is the hardest thing she has ever had to do but she votes yes. Farmer, yes, Waldron, no, Broeker, yes, Mosley, yes, motion carries.

The taxes are going up, kids. Some of us clapped. Lots of other people are leaving.

Aldermen Green, Farmer, and Broeker, I thank you and applaud you for your courage.

8:46 This is a bunch of stuff about Old Timer’s Festival and the 4th of July. Watch this on Channel 3 because I missed a lot of this while I was typing out what had just happened.

8:46 Fred Gaston Library board, Fred wins. Congrats, Fred!! 🙂

Connie JoAnna Jones for the Senior Citizen’s board, that passes. Congrats, CJ!

3 for economic development: Tom Clark, Eric Tuttobene, Edward Jones. Mayor Mosley is recommending Grant Green and Tom Clark.

Greenway Advisory Committee : Doug Smith, dang. I missed it. Sorry.

Parks and Rec: Both people whose terms are up want to stay, they voted to keep them.

Emergency Planning Committee: Tim Hooker, approved.

8:52 First reading on..uhhhh, something about circuses. I am gonna stop listening because of my fear of clowns. Watch it on Channel 3, heh.

Guest blogging by our own dear Jason Cole while I take a bathroom break!!

8:57 Motion to deny grievance policy update. Motion carried.
Resolution 2011-13 about the advertising at OTD passed by board.
(tiny keyboards need to be outlawed)
8:59 Resolution 2011-14 passed by board sole nay by Alderman Waldron who stated he wasn’t at the workshop on it.
Motion for a helicopter to be at the OTD passed by board with no discussion.

Ivy again. I walked out with the wi-fi. Ooops. Jason actually said more, but we missed it because I’m not as smart as I like to think I am, heh heh.

9:09 Mayor and Alderman comments.

Broeker: “We heard so many different emotions, we heard a bit more against tonight. The easiest thing in the world would have been for me to sit here and vote no. We ran on a platform of change, and I wanted to give that to the city. The 5 year plan is on the website. The budget is on the website. Please call and we will explain anything you would like to know. Someone said we could stay stagnant or move this city forward and I voted to move the city forward tonight. Thank you.”

Waldron: Talking about what a great guy Cecil is. He says he will try to not miss any more workshops and keep your pets hydrated in this heat.

Farmer: Also about Cecil and keep (someone) in your prayers.

Green: Also about Cecil. She said she came to this meeting intending to vote no and she doesn’t know why she voted that same way. She said that nobody is perfect and she has done her level best. She’s been here since 1996 and it is not easy to do this. It is hard to sit on that side of the table and she promises that she has never done a favor and she has been honest. She is proud to live in La Vergne and she wants the seniors to look into tax relief and she would be glad to help them go through that process. It will be hard, it will be hard for her too. But if we are going to live here, we need to move forward. We’ll all get through it and it will turn out to be a better city. She says we need to be careful with school out and the kids out in the streets. (Waldron said something similar, I just failed to type it because I’m slow)

Steve Mayer: Feels he has some of the hardest working city employees and they didn’t get raises and not a one of them complained.

Mosley: “Everybody thinks that is easy,. but it was very hard for us. We have a burden to ask you to think logically, there are not frills in this budget. The city workers are working with skeleton crews and did not get raises. It will take all of us working together. This city is going to move forward. This recession is not going to last forever. And police, I want you to go into Lake Forest like you go into Iraq and take care of it.”

Meeting adjourned.

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