Debate Boils Down to Stop or Go

UPDATE: Because of the upcoming debate, the answers to the questionnaires will be published starting Friday, October 12th. This will allow all candidates to come to the debate with their own answers rather than pulling from answers provided here by their political opposition.

Just as the presidential debate last night was important to voters in the U.S., La Vergne has an equally important debate to look forward to next week.  On Thursday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m., the five individuals running for the office of aldermen will go head-to-head, toe-to-toe as they discuss local government issues.

The debate is being conducted by the non-partisan, non-biased League of Women Voters in the Board Room at City Hall.  Because the seating capacity in the Board Room is 125, the city is also setting up an overflow tent next to City Hall with a live video feed of the discussions.  In addition, people who can’t make it will be able to watch from home on either their local access cable channel or they can watch it stream live from the city web page.  It will also be recorded to air later and to be put on YouTube.  All in all, I’d say the city is making it extremely accessible for all residents and voters as they make their decision on who their two votes will go toward.

Two votes.  You can vote once. You can vote twice. Or  you can vote not at all.  We certainly hope everyone will vote for what we believe comes down to whether you want the city to move forward or go back.  Stop or go.

Moving forward, we predict taxes will remain unchanged at their current rate of $1.00.  We will see a continuation of sidewalks being installed, roads being repaired, more police officers and detectives on the street, and bills being paid.  We have seen a measurable reduction in crime, improved community events,  growth in activities at the senior center, and a staff qualified to address concerns like broken water lines, hazmat spills, web design, and more.

Going back would mean rolling back the tax rate. What would happen then? Take a look at the city’s budget (now available online thanks to a greater transparency in our local government) and consider what would be cut because – frankly – some fairly strong cuts would have to be made.  Yes this option would save families between $10 and $40 per month, depending on the value of their homes.  You wouldn’t see the savings for at least a year after any tax cut if you pay taxes through your house note because it will take that long for mortgage companies to realize you are putting too much in escrow.  What would not happen if residents vote to “go back”?  Lower water and sewer rates.  I know, I know this is probably not something people will like reading.  The bad news is the cost of water is rapidly increasing all across the nation. In La Vergne, we are not exempt from it.  Because the city has to pay Nashville for waste water removal since we don’t have our own sewer treatment plant, we pay (as the mayor said at the meeting on Tuesday) what Nashville says we pay. Perhaps a future option could be to build our own sewer treatment plant, but at a cost of millions and millions of dollars. That option wouldn’t help our pocketbooks for decades. So water and sewer rates would likely remain unchanged if any candidate takes a serious look at options.

In the debate we would imagine the questions to be fairly straightforward, really.  Will you cut taxes? If yes, what capital improvements, programs, and positions will you slash as a result?  If no, are there other ways the city can save money? What in La Vergne are you most proud of?  What improvements can be made?  How could we build more jobs?  How could the city improve home values? How could the city entice more people to move here to get all those “for sale” signs out of yards?

These are the pretty big questions that are being asked of community leaders all across the nation. It will be interesting to see who has the fortitude to be honest, to make the difficult decisions, or who will make promises whether they can be kept or not just to please voters.

Five candidates are running for alderman:  Incumbents Tom Broeker and Dennis Waldron and challengers Melisa Brown, Kathy Hines, and John Kleber.  We have invited all of them to reply to a short questionnaire and their answers are coming in (although we are still waiting for a couple more replies)!  Their answers will be published starting Monday in the order they were received. Late responses will not be accepted because – in fairness – we do not one person to write based on the answers someone already gave.  Answers will be published starting Friday after the debate.

We wish good luck to all the people running.

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