I Ask To Continue Serving Our Community As Your Mayor

As of May 29th, I officially became a candidate for Clarksville City Mayor. I made this decision for no other reason than to serve the community my wife and I call home. We have considerable family history in Clarksville, a grandfather that graduated from Clarksville High in 1923 and two daughters who also attended Clarksville High 80 years later. We had a great-grandmother who ran a boarding house in what had been the first Mayor of Clarksville’s home on what is now Strawberry Alley. Family roots go all the way back to the founding of Clarksville-Montgomery County at Renfro Station.

 

I have been continually involved in community activities since retiring to Clarksville in 1994 from the Air Force. This involvement has caused me to develop concerns on how the community is growing, but not addressing issues and challenges it faces. Addressing those concerns is what led me to become a city councilman for eight years and now leads me to run for Mayor in 2018.

 

During the past four years the continued lack of a coherent vision for our city, poor budgetary decisions aimed at just getting by for another 12-months, multiple property tax increase efforts, spending money on projects with no plans to completing them, failure to address infrastructure needs, and expanded strife and fights that now go beyond the city council itself and extend to interactions with county government have enabled citizens to realize a change is needed in city leadership. Many people have encouraged me to run for mayor.  As I did with my military and city council service, I will answer the call to serve.

 

Therefore, I ask for your support and vote this November to become your next city mayor. Look at the vision and proposals I’ll present for your review in the weeks and months ahead.

Together, I know WE can make a better Clarksville.

 

 

 

 

 

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Unanswered Concerns with the Proposed Soccer Complex

The city council meeting held Oct 4th was very interesting, yet little has been made in the press/media about what was actually said and what the financial facts are.  You may view the city council discussion about the soccer complex at: http://clarksvilletn.swagit.com/play/10042018-904

Select Item 7, forward the video clip to about the 5-minute mark and play.

 

Facts:

 

  1. Per press release information the soccer complex costs $27 million. Add debt interest and it’s likely to be $30 million total cost or around $1.5 million/year debt repayment.
  2. The city has NOT programmed or allocated money to build the soccer complex in the current budget or any future year allocations.
  3. The city did not do its homework in recognizing that the $4 million land purchase was not in the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and, therefore, could not be annexed into the city. Thus, the need to actually cooperate with the county to change the UGB.
  4. The TSSA stated it wants the new complex by January 2020. Less than 15 months away.
  5. Due to projected spending and revenues in the current city budget, there will be a multi-million-dollar revenue shortfall in next year’s budget. Neither Mrs. McMillan nor my opponents are publicly commenting or offering any solutions to this problem. I have provided a solution, reference my webpage http://summers4mayor.com/?p=1431.
  6. Published media reports estimate local, state sales and lodging taxes for 20 years at $19.2 million or about $960,000/year . State sales tax is 7% so a large portion of that tax revenue goes to them. The city and county get 2.5% of the sales tax. However, due to past sales tax agreements on splitting this tax portion, the city gets around third instead of half.  The city gets about 20% of any hotel/motel tax.  No breakout of what the city’s actual portion of tax revenue (sales/hotel) has been provide.  It appears the city taxpayer would be lucky to see a several hundred thousand dollars a year in revenue. That would not cover the debt payments.

 

Thursday’s council meeting made it very clear that Mrs. McMillan was busy using a lot of “smoke and mirrors” on direct questions about this project.

Council Question: Is TSSA aware that the city has only budgeted $100,000 for the next five years related to that project and how that will be addressed?

 

Answer: Mrs. McMillan stated, “negotiations have to do with attempting to come up with a agreement that can move forward and not for the funding of the total project. Once the negotiations occur there will be information that will be brought back to the council with respect to the funding of the project.”

 

Council Question: Are they (TSSA) aware there is currently no funding for construction?

 

Answer: Mrs. McMillan stated, “yes, they are totally aware of that”

 

Council Question: If an agreement is reached, then you will be coming back to the council to ask for the funding or bonding approval for the soccer construction?

 

Answer: Mrs. McMillan stated, “that is correct”…”it is impossible to provide for the funding in advance when we don’t know what the agreement is going to be and we don’t know what our obligations will be and we don’t know exactly how much it is going to cost. So, you cannot do it until we complete the negotiations.”

 

Council Question: Is it the intent to build the soccer structure with or without an agreement from TSSA?

 

Answer: Mrs. McMillan state, “we don’t know that yet because we have not gone through the negotiations.”

Before the city taxpayer spent $100k on a soccer complex study to determine costs and revenues it was estimated that cost of the soccer complex would be $30-$35 million. The study states costs will be almost $27 million to build ($30+ million with debt payments).  Yet Mrs. McMillan still says it still impossible to know the costs because we have not sat down with TSSA to see what they want. The follow-up BIG question is why do a study if you didn’t know what TSAA wanted?  If you read the Oct 3, 2018 city press release, the city knew what TSSA wanted and the study is based on those requirements.  Also, in years past, the city has programmed or estimated borrowed/debt money in budgets for projects that it intended to do.  Just because you place a borrowed/debt amount in the budget does not mean you will need to actually borrow it.  If the city wanted to show TSSA it was serious, it would have been a good faith move to show construction money for the project.  Actions and statements by Mrs. McMillan do not track.

 

Given that Mrs. McMillan has repeatedly used the children and involved parents of the local soccer leagues as the reason the city must move forward with this project, the answer to the last question “Is it the intent to build the soccer structure with or without an agreement from TSSA?” was a SHOCKER.  The simple, direct answer should have been “YES” if she is really serious about addressing local soccer needs.  In essence, she refused to answer that simple question and whipped out those “smoke and mirrors” in the hope that no one noticed she did not say “YES”.

 

Remember, Mrs. McMillan showed interest and promises to build a new Roxy/PAC.  Seven years and hundreds of thousands of study dollars later we have no finished study and no new Roxy/PAC anywhere in sight.  The same empty interest and promises has been given for years by Mrs. McMillan for downtown redevelopment with the same empty results. Now we see another example of supposed interest and promises for the soccer complex…at least until the Nov. 6th elections.

Crime and Public Safety

My Plan To Start Addressing The Officer Shortfall for FY2020

 

Mrs. McMillan tells you she has met the police department’s staffing goal of two officers per thousand citizens. This is FALSE! Using the actual city population numbers provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and doing true growth projections, Clarksville Police needed a minimum of 18 additional officers for FY2019, instead of the seven they received. FY2020 projections show a minimum of four additional officer positions.

As public safety is a priority with me, I will begin addressing the15 police officer shortfall (11 in FY 2019 and 4 for FY2020) by cutting the bloated office operations of the City Mayor and Legislative functions by over $250,000. I will transfer this money to the police department to fund up to five additional officer positions by this better use of your taxpayer dollar. While this action does not fill the complete shortfall, it shows I will streamline the operations within my Mayor’s office to better serve the citizens’ safety.

 

The Details For Your Review

Mrs. McMillan in her May 7, 2018 budget presentations for the Police Department claimed Clarksville’s current population is 150,287. According to the U.S. Census, that was our population on July 2016. Again, per published U.S. Census figures, Clarksville’s population was 153,205 on July 2017. Using the Mayor’s own conservative population growth increase of 1.5% a year, that means the July 2018 population for Clarksville is 155,503. Since we are supposed to be planning to meet the needs of our city for 2019 and based again on the conservative growth percentage being used, we should be sizing our police departments for a population of 157,836 for July 2019. Mrs. McMillan used a population figure of 152,541 for July 2019.

 

Mrs. McMillan talks about budget transparency, but like a magician she is only transparent on what she wants you to see.

 

Learn about my plans to work with Clarksville Fire Rescue and potentially lower your fire insurance premiums by reading the following:

Public Safety

 

Clarksville deserves better! Help me make a better Clarksville!

Budget and Taxes

My Plan To Avoid A Property Tax Increase for FY2020

The McMillan published FY 2019 budget is overspent and reserves were drained to cover the shortfall. With reserves all but depleted, normal yearly revenue growth will not cover next year’s budget shortfall due to excessive spending created in this budget. An approximate 25-cent property tax hike will be required to cover the potential $7 million revenue shortfall Mrs. McMillan is creating, unless we act soon. Here is my plan to avoid that tax hike:

1) Upon taking office in January 2019, work with city departments on ideas I’ll present to identify hard dollars savings between $1 and $2 million in reduced spending in the current FY 2019 budget.

 

2) Begin budget planning that will reduce between $1 and $2 million in normal anticipated expenditure/spending growth for FY2020.

 

3) Utilize $3 million of your tax dollars that are currently being set aside and used for nothing, EXCEPT for the political perception of good city money management.

 

4) I will NOT sanction or support increasing city debt by a potential $60 million in 2020.

 

The basic plan I have outlined will move spending in line with revenues; make better use of available taxpayer money based on financial reviews of city monetary policy and best practices advocated for local city governments to follow; and avoid massive borrowing.

 

The Details For Your Review

The budget that has gone into effect mirrors the budget Mrs. McMillan established four years ago. If you will recall, that was a re-election year for her too and that budget promised much. She touted back then that budget was balanced, no tax increases had occurred, and the city was in good financial shape. I was the only candidate in that election that stated, on the record, that the city was scraping the bottom of the financial barrel and we would be in trouble in the next budget, if we did not impose some spending changes. I avoided the term “property tax hike” as there were measures we could have taken to avoid it. As a council member, I voted against that budget due to the tax hike prospect, which Mrs. McMillan WOULD NOT address.

You will recall within six months of being re-elected Mrs. McMillan demanded an 18-cent property tax hike and a 5-cent hike the following year. Thus, the tax increase I predicted was validated by her actions. Her budgetary solution to overspending and budget shortfalls is to increase your property taxes. Here are the facts on the new FY2019 budget:

1) Expenditures are $4.7 million more than revenues (Expenditures were $4.8 million more than revenues four years ago)

2) Unobligated reserves were all but depleted to cover the FY 2019 budget shortfall ($150k remains compared to $1.2 million four years ago)

3) Expenditures are increasing at twice the rate of revenues. (similar to four years ago)

4) $20 million in new debt for FY2019 (the debt payments are not includes) with $60 million being discussed in FY2020.

5) Unless changes are made soon, expenditure and revenue growth patterns indicate a budget shortfall of approximately $7 million for FY2020 (25-cent property tax hike just to break even).

6) Issues raised by city council members on this budget about excessive spending and the likelihood of a tax increase next year to cover this spending were ignored by Mrs. McMillan (just like four years ago).

 

Mrs. McMillan talks about budget transparency, but like a magician she is only transparent on what she wants you to see.

 

Clarksville deserves better! Help me make a better Clarksville!

The Overriding Issue of this Campaign – LEADERSHIP

LEADERSHIP is the central issue of this election. A recent media “Editorial Opinion” piece inferred that the current city leadership operates more as a “monarchy”, with little to no time spent on communications and consensus building, but expecting the council to “rubber-stamp” her proposals. This type of interaction with duly elected council members, who represent constituents too, has caused serious riffs almost from the start of this administration’s time in office.

 

The media and supporters of Mrs. McMillan often spin this raucous interaction as personal politics of a few, always looking to stop progress. They ignore council members being continually expected to support her actions but rarely given the information on a plan including timetables to complete, costs involved and funding sources. The council is upset that this mode of leadership is what has put the city into a financial bind and led to Mrs. McMillan’s fix……property tax increases….. twice in four years.

 

It is overlooked that, when the council proposes something positive, Mrs. McMillan fights against it. This fighting has even expanded to interactions with the County Mayor and Commission when they have approached the city to work on mutual projects. The council has used its power to intercede and work with the county, thus placing Mrs. McMillan in the position of a figurehead only.

 

It is also overlooked that at least 21 different citizens have or are serving as elected council members since Mrs. McMillan’s tenure started. The infighting has only grown worse and even the working atmosphere and turnover in her office staff has been noted. The poor interactions and turmoil that have occurred within city government with 21 different council members, a County Mayor and County Commission have only one common denominator……….Mrs. McMillan. It is time for a leadership change!

 

I have years of educational study and practical use of leadership skills that have resulted in unit and personal awards during my military career. My military and civilian consulting work consisted of identifying and correcting the leadership, management and operations issues that hampered organizations from being efficient and effective. My leadership work within the Clarksville community and at the state legislature has resulted in additional personal recognition and organization awards. My work as a city councilman resulted in problems solved for constituents, city department heads and community businesses. My council work efforts were recognized in a re-election with over 81% of the vote.

 

I have trained most of my adult life to be a leader and make the team I work with better. These are the ingredients our city needs for its future. Together we can make a better Clarksville.