Shelbyville City Council members discussed the dilemma of how to support local nonprofit groups during a study session Tuesday night.
Council member Jo Ann Holland said some of the nonprofits which receive city funding would have a hard time surviving without it. Mayor Wallace Cartwright said that some cases, city funding, even in modest amounts, is necessary for the agencies to qualify for grant funding from other sources.
But council member Sam Meek said he suspects that when the numbers are in, the city may need to cut the nonprofit funding to keep the property tax rate as low as possible.
The council held a budget hearing for nonprofit agencies earlier in May, although Meek pointed out that some of the agencies requesting funding didn't attend. Non-profits receive a total of $265,656 in the current year's budget (2010-2011), the same total figure given to nonprofits in the 2009-2010 budget. They are requesting a total of $295,506 in the 2011-2012 budget.
City Recorder Betty Lamb said the council didn't have to make a decision on nonprofit funding Tuesday night but would need to make one soon.
The council also heard about employee health insurance Tuesday night. Insurance agent Wendell Agnew said he had managed to negotiate what was originally a 15.27 percent increase in premiums down to 9.9 percent. The city currently has its employee health insurance with Blue Cross-Blue Shield. Agnew said the other major carriers, including CIGNA, United Health and Aetna, declined to bid, saying they couldn't match the Blue Cross offer.
Council member Thomas Landers noted that making too many changes to employee insurance could lead to turnover, and employee turnover is actually a hidden cost, since replacement employees have to be trained and brought up to speed.
Council members indicated that if the city covers the increase in insurance premiums, it's unlikely to give any salary increase to employees this year.
At the next regular business meeting, the council will consider on third reading rezoning property at the corner of Hillcrest Drive and Eagle Boulevard from I-2 (Heavy Industrial) and R-2 (Low Density Residential) to C-2 (Highway Service District), as recommended by the city planning commission.
The council will also consider de-annexing, or removing from the city's boundaries, two parcels fronting Harts Chapel Road and Midland Road. The former owners of the site had asked for and received zoning as a planned unit development (PUD), a special zoning classification that allows a mixed-use project.
But now the parcel is owned by Memphis-based Community Bank, which is asking for it to be taken out of the city's jurisdiction. That would remove the PUD zoning and place the parcel under the county's zoning map, where it would presumably fall under the A-1 (agriculture) zone.
City planning and codes director Ed Dodson said the PUD zoning could have been revoked without de-annexing the property.
The city planning commission has recommended in favor of de-annexation.
Public Works director Mark Clanton discussed possible uses of surface transportation program (STP) grant funding from the state. The city has $908,000 in STP funding available, less $250,000 which has been committed to the widening of North Main Street, leaving $658,000.
Clanton distributed a list of possible projects which would qualify for the program. Using the grant funds for road projects would require the city to pay 20 percent in matching funds. Using the grant funds for traffic signals would not require any local match. The road projects must be what the state designates as collector roads; the funds can't be used on residential neighborhood streets.
Projects discussed by Clanton include:
* Upgrading the traffic signal at the intersection of Thompson and Depot streets.
* Resurfacing East Lane Street between State Route 82 and Eaton Drive. This project is composed of two segments, one south of Madison Street and the other north of Madison Street.
* Resurfacing Stanley Boulevard.
* Replacing curb and gutter on Blue Ribbon Parkway.
In addition, even though it wasn't on Clanton's written report, council members discussed using some of the money to place traffic lights at the intersection of Learning Way and Madison Street. Council members asked whether the inactive traffic lights on Madison Street in front of Albéa and the old Walmart location could be moved to Learning Way, as proposed in the past. But Clanton said the state doesn't want to move the posts which hold the traffic lights in case some other high-traffic usage were to move in to the old Walmart location. So all that could be moved would be the traffic lights themselves, and Clanton said the cost would be about the same to go ahead and put in a brand new signal at Learning Way.
In other action:
* The city will ask the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service to rewrite the city's code and charter, incorporating ordinances passed since the last rewrite in July 2008.
* The council briefly discussed the impact to the city of the state shutting down its local government planning office. Some of the local governments which used that office are discussing alternative solutions.
* Cartwright announced he will appoint Michael Cook and Amy Shoemaker to the Recycling Committee.
* Following the study session, the council met in closed attorney-client session with its attorney, Ginger Shofner, for an update on current litigation involving the city. Prior to the closed session, Shofner reported that the city won the most recent decision in its ongoing legal battle with Wright Paving Company over rock quarry zoning.