Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Special Thank-You

A special thank you is in order for readers – constituent or otherwise!
I appreciate your feedback, whether it is on the blog through comments, e-mail, telephone call and/or in passing.
I have tried to keep folks up to speed on the Springfield Study Committee, and the discussions have been great. More importantly, they have been helpful.

Springfield Study Committee: Evaluating a Learning Academy

Here is a follow-up post to the post a couple of weeks ago on the Springfield Study Committee.
At our last meeting, we analyzed a “Learning Academy Concept.” Recall that this was a proposal that was discussed which would target underperforming students.
You will recall the format in which I asked last time. As always, I look forward to your feedback. We will be meeting this week.

Pros –

Cons –

Stakeholders –

What input we need from Stakeholders –

Budget Implications –

More information –

The Week of October 17th

October 17, 2011 – October 21, 2011:Date & Committee/Board           Time                    Location

Monday- October 17
Animal Control                                                   6:00 P.M.            Juvenile Court
County Commission                                         7:00 P.M.             Juvenile Court              

Tuesday- October 18
911 Board                                                            9:00 A.M.                   ECC Building
Health & Safety                                                  5:30 P.M.             
Wednesday – October 19
RTA                                                                        10:00 A.M.                 400 Charlotte, Nash.
GNRC                                                                    11:00 A.M.                 400 Charlotte, Nash.                     

Thursday- October 20
Re-Districting Committee                             5:00 P.M.                    3rd Floor Conf. Rm. 
Personnel Committee                                    5:00 P.M.                    County OB                                                  

Friday-October 21

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Robertson County Reads: A Call to Help

This is “A Call to Help” for the “Robertson County Reads Program.”
What I quote (in part) here is a letter drafted by Education Committee Chairman Steve Haley to a local civic group:
Robertson County Reads is our county’s affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a program which sends high-quality; age-appropriate books each month to children from birth to age five.  Books are mailed to the child at his/her home at no cost to the family.
The program was adopted for Robertson County by the County Commission as part of the Governors Books from Birth Initiative.  The Robertson County Chamber was asked to serve as the “champion” for the program, taking responsibility for fundraising and administration.
Since its inception in 2006, over 3,500 Robertson County children have been served by Robertson County Reads, with over 95,000 books being distributed.  There are currently 1,570 children enrolled, an estimated 43% of those eligible, and 1,763 children have reached age five and “graduated” from the program.
The chamber has raised close to $100,000 over the past five years to cover the cost of the program.  The cost of books and postage is approximately $28 per child, per year.  Of this the Governors Books from Birth Foundation pays half and local fundraising covers the rest.  To date we have spent $95,500 on books and postage. 
The ongoing cost of the program given our current level of enrollment is approximately $1,500 per month or $18,000 per year.  We have been receiving $2,000 annually from the United Way and another $2,000 from the local Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs.  We also have initiated a program to allow folks to sponsor a child for a year at a cost of $15.   We currently have a database of sponsors which covers the costs for about 700 children.  
This program needs to move from the chamber to another entity that can manage and fund raiser for this program.   There is currently a short fall in this program and it is close to have to be shut down.  The measurements of this program are VERY long range and we won’t know who or how we have helped the participating children until years down the road. 
I quote this in part because Chairman Haley submitted this to a local group for them to consider participating in some form or fashion – “who” here is being asked is not as important as just what is being asked. Read this as an open plea to Robertson County.
As a member of the chamber and as an Education Committee member, finding a group to carry this banner forward is high priority. I think we can all agree of the value that this program - personally, I know that two of my little girls, Aubrey and Zella, look forward to and love each month's new books. This is why I am a proud financial supporter of this program.
What this program needs is a group to carry the fundraising banner forward.
If you would like to help in any form or fashion, please feel free to contact me.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Week of October 10, 2011

October 10 - 14, 2011

Date & Committee/Board                           Time                                      Location
Monday - October 10
Tuesday - October 11
Airport Board                                                     8:00 A.M.                             Airport
Law Enforcement & Workhouse Board        5:00 P.M.                             Jail
Solid Waste                                                        6:00 P.M.                             County Office Building
Wednesday - October 12

Thursday - October 13

Friday - October 14


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Springfield Study Committee: Evaluating a Magnet School

As a part of the Springfield Schools Study Committee, we are taking a look at a ‘magnet school’ this week as one of the potential solutions – whether a partial or total solution -  for some of the problems and perceptions surrounding the Springfield School System. 
We have been charged with evaluating a ‘magnet school’ with the following categories.

I would certainly value your input. Please feel free to comment below and send me an e-mail.

Pros -

Cons -

Stakeholders involved -

What input we need from stakeholders -

Budget implications -

Additional Information needed -

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How the Recession Affects Robertson County

As we emerge from the most current budget cycle, one thing we must keep in mind is the upcoming property tax appraisal/assessment process – and, succinctly, how this will affect the Robertson County tax base.
Check out this piece by TCCA Executive Director David Connor as relates to the recession and its overall impact on our collective tax bases.
On September 27, 2011, the Tennessee County Commissioners Association had a regional meeting here in Springfield, Robertson County, Tennessee. The topic of the re-appraisals came up. Quite frankly, several of our sister counties that are going through the process are facing dire situations – including Williamson County.

Tennessee Sales Tax

I thought this was an interesting piece on Tennessee’s sales tax:
“Tops,” or “bottoms,” depending on your point of view.

RCC: Personnel Committee

A quick note on the Personnel Committee:
There is an upcoming meeting scheduled for October 20, 2011. Now that the 2011-12 Operating Budget process is over, the Personnel Committee will endeavor to update the Robertson County Employee Handbook.
Several Department Heads have already submitted suggested edits.
Check back here for updates.

The Week of October 3rd

October 3 -7, 2011
Date & Committee/Board                           Time                                      Location

Monday - October 3
Building and Grounds                                     5:00 P.M.                             County Office Building
School Board                                                      7:00 P.M.                             Central Office

Tuesday - October 4
Budget                                                                 4:00 P.M.                             County Office Building

Wednesday - October 5
Foster Care Review Board                            9:00 A.M.                             General Sessions 
Thursday - October 6
Legislative                                                           5:00 P.M.                             County Mayor’s Office
Redistricting                                                       5:00 P.M.                             County Office Building
Planning & Zoning                                            7:00 P.M.                             County Office Building

Friday - October 7

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Week of September 5th

Date & Committee/Board             Time                    Location
Monday - September 5
HOLIDAY - Offices Closed                                                         

Tuesday - September 6
Education                                                            6:00 P.M.                             Central Office
School Board                                                      7:00 P.M.                             Central Office                   

Wednesday - September 7
Foster Care Review Board                            9:00 A.M.                             General Sessions                                                                                                                              

Thursday - September 8
Animal Control                                                  5:30 P.M.                             County Mayor’s Office

Friday - September 9

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Week of August 22nd

August 22 - 26, 2011

Date & Committee/Board                 Time                            Location
Monday - August 22
Special Session:
            Board of Education                6:00 P.M.                    Central Office

Tuesday - August 23
Legislative                                          6:15 P.M.                    Juvenile Courtroom
Public Hearing/Budget                 7:00 P.M.                    Juvenile Courtroom

Wednesday - August 24

Thursday - August 25
Highway Commission                        7:00 P.M.                    Highway Offices

Friday - August 26

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011-12 Operating Budget: Heading into Monday’s Regular Meeting

Here is the most recent coverage from the Robertson County Times of the August 2, 2011 Robertson County Commission Budget Committee Meeting. The article covers some of the rates in sister counties – remember, I did the same thing back in April by looking at a good part of Middle Tennessee.

My summary can be found here.
As we head into Monday’s Regular Meeting, we will have an up-and-down vote on the 2011-12 Operating Budget.
I am still committed to not raising your property taxes. We have a long way to go, and I do not think we have adequately explored the budget in its current form.

Robertson County: Notorious?

This will likely be an unpopular post.

With that being said, I must address this story. For, as you can see here, it becomes that much more notorious (see the right-hand sidebar – this is a daily publication sent to members of the Tennessee Bar Association).
I have said it before, and will maintain that we must address the issues facing our schools. We must, because internally or externally, they will be solved by others. And, it is not just a federal investigation. We can continue to be concerned with how each of our schools performs with regard to state and federal standard.
Again, I will continue to state that there is not a silver bullet solution, so we must continue to leave all options on the table as we move forward.
It is my hope that the formation of the “Study Committee for Review and Recommendation of Educational Initiatives in the Springfield School Cluster” will go a long way to address these issues.
What this growing concerns illustrates to me is that the finger-pointing must cease and the sectionalism throughout the communities must cease.
Like it or not, this is a Robertson County issue.
Internally or Externally, something must be done, and that thing will affect the entirety of Robertson County.

Redistricting Committee & the City of Springfield

The Robertson County Times covered the last Redistricting Committee Meeting (Do not forget the Redistricting Committee meets again this Thursday at 4pm).

With that being said, the Mayor Billy Paul Carneal spoke at the last meeting to convey concerns that the City of Springfield apparently has moving forward with the entire redistricting process. I believe those concerns can be summarized in the following quote (See the full story here):
“We just think it would be a little fairer if we did not have so many representing a few, but had fewer representing a larger [city] base,” he concluded.
I am not quite sure I agree with this proposition. This is a county matter, and though I can understand the concerns that the City of Springfield may have with Robertson County Schools, I do not think that the redistricting process is the proper direction to meet this challenge. The reason-being is that if the Redistricting Committee began accommodating each and every municipality in such a way, then it would be impossible for lines to be drawn.

NOT in this environment...

I would rather not contemplate the fallout if any of our commissioners proposed this sort of resolution.

August 'Commission Packet'

Please do not forget that Robertson County Clerk Susan Atchley posts the “Commission Packets” in the weeks leading up to the monthly “Regular Meeting” of the Robertson County Commission.

You can find the packets at the Robertson County website. Here is a direct link.
Also, here is a list of the resolutions and those commissioners who will be presenting them at the August Regular Meeting:

Friday, August 12, 2011

CTAS Visulization Tools

These “Visualization Tools” offer insight on a county-by-county level and insight into economic data and population growth:

Explore Tennessee state data with one of these interactive download or visualization tools developed in partnership with the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research, the University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) and the University of Tennessee Department of Geography.

June Unemployment Rate

This is a concerning development regarding Robertson County’s unemployment rate.

Robertson County was one of 91 counties in the state of Tennessee whose unemployment rates increased for the month of June.
Tennessee’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for June was 9.8 percent, up slightly from the May rate of 9.7 percent.
Robertson County’s unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent in June, compared to the previous month at 8.6 percent.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Upcoming Economic Development Workshops

There are Economic Development Workshops scheduled later this month presented by County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) and the Tennessee County Commission Association (TCCA).

I look forward to attending the workshop in Franklin on August 24th.

The Week of August 15, 2011

MEETINGS SCHEDULED WEEK OF: August 15 - 19, 2011

Date & Committee/Board                           Time                                      Location
Monday - August 15
Animal Control                                                  6:00 P.M                              Juvenile Courtroom
County Commission                                        7:00 P.M.                             Juvenile Courtroom          

Tuesday - August 16
911 Board                                                            9:00 A.M.                             ECC Building
Budget                                                                 5:00 P.M.                             County Office Building
Health and Safety                                            5:30 P.M.                             County Office Building

Wednesday - August 17
RTA                                                                        10:00 A.M.                          400 Charlotte, Nashville
GNRC                                                                    11:00 A.M.                          400 Charlotte, Nashville
MCHRA                                                                Noon                                     400 Charlotte,

Thursday - August 18
Redistricting                                                       4:00 P.M.                             County Office Building

Friday - August 19

Waiving/Waving to NCLB

Here is an interesting post by Tennessee County Commission Association (TCCA) Executive Director David Connor.
I know that those in education will likely be optimistic the news that Tennessee is apparently an “example” of a state deserving a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today cited Tennessee as an example of a state that has "done a great job" in setting education standards and deserving of a waiver from No Child Left Behind.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Every Option on the Table: Curiosity Regarding Blount County’s HOPE Academy

Here is a story regarding a proposed charter school in Blount County.

Let me just acknowledge something at the outset of this post, I am well aware that charter schools raise ire and confusion. Frankly, you hear a wide array of positions with regard to charter schools in/out of Tennessee.

Follow-Up: School Zone Meeting

In a follow-up piece from the ‘School Zone Meeting’ where I referenced Robertson County Schools creating a “task-force” for analyzing and proposing solutions to the issues that Springfield City schools and Robertson County Schools face.
I have been selected to this task-force, and I will look forward to our first meeting later this month.
Here are the other members on the “Study Committee for Review and Recommendation of Educational Initiatives in the Springfield School Cluster:”  

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Look at the Franklin Special School District

It looks as though Robertson County is not the only County facing recognizable challenges in education – socioeconomic, ethnic and community-based schools:

It was back in October when Franklin Special School District leaders started to work on a plan to bring socioeconomic and ethnic balance to its seven schools and 3,800 students. More than nine months later, it’s still unclear what direction the district will take.
It looks as though Williamson County – yes, that Williamson County faces some of those same challenges we do here.
It will be interesting to watch much like it will be interesting to watch just what we do here in Robertson County.

All [Education] Politics is Local

An interesting report regarding Tennessee:
Officials in Georgia, New York and several other states have said they may ask for waivers, but Tennessee appears to be the first to do so. A yes would exempt the state from applying No Child Left Behind sanctions — which include offering students tutoring or transfers to other schools and firing principals and teachers — and allow it to use its own standards to hold failing schools and districts accountable. (emphasis added)
What I may humbly add on this topic: One thing that I have learned is that each of you have an opinion on education, a strong opinion; and, usually those are plural – opinions. With that being said, I think each of us could agree that a waiver from NCLB would be a positive for our teachers.

The Week of August 8th

August 8 - 12, 2011

Date & Committee/Board                 Time                           Location

Monday - August 8

EMS                                                    5:00 P.M                     EMS Building

School Board                                      7:00 P.M.                    Central Office
Tuesday - August 9

Airport Board                                     8:00 A.M.                    Airport

Law Enforcement/                              5:00 P.M.                    Jail

            Workhouse Board

Solid Waste                                         6:00 P.M.                    County Office Building 

Wednesday - August 10


Thursday - August 11

Building and Grounds                        5:00 P.M.                    County Mayor’s Office

Fire                                                      6:00 P.M.                    ECC Building

Friday - August 12


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MY Minutes: 2011.8.2 RCC Budget Committee Meeting

Here is a summary of last night’s Robertson County Commission (“RCC”) Budget Committee Meeting (“BC”):
There were presentations from various agencies including the Gorham-MacBane Public Library; as well as discussions regarding funding for various non-profit/not-for-profit agencies.
Following this discussion, the BC considered cuts to several departments, and even considered cutting Robertson County Animal Control. However, this was general discussion and no motion/proposal was specifically considered by the BC.
After this general discussion, the BC came to the conclusion that they did not necessarily know what direction that the RCC would want to go with the Budget. Meaning, would the RCC pursue further cuts, or would the RCC consider the “needed” $.40 property tax increase. When the discussion turned to some form of both cuts and tax increses, the BC decided to send the discussion to the RCC.
The BC voted to send the $.40 property tax increase to the RCC.
This will be considered at the next Regular Meeting later this month.
I hope to have more on this issue in the coming weeks.
Robertson County, what are your thoughts?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Clarksville's Audit Committee

Here is a story on Clarksville’s Audit Committee.

Folks have asked me how vibrant Robertson County’s Audit Committee will be.
Folks automatically assumed that the Audit Committee will be somewhat reactionary just as the Ethics Committee tends to be. And, what I took from being ‘reactionary’ is that the Ethics Committee generally convenes when complaints and issues are brought to that committee’s attention. It is somewhat of a passive committee unless it has been charged with a task. I do not foresee our Audit Committee being that way.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Proposed "Archives and Records Management Fee"

Here is a proposed resolution that seems to be gaining some momentum amongst commissioners (I have included the resolution in its entirety at the bottom of this post).
Summarily, this proposal is a resolution adopted by a sister where a fee would be assessed for archiving certain documents. If adopted, this fee would generate a significant amount of revenue – an estimated $.01 or $.02 here in Robertson County.

This fee increase is seen as an alternative to ease the apparent looming property tax increase.
Apparently, to levy a fee is easier than to levy a property tax increase.
See, in my humble opinion, whether labeled as a “fee,” or attached to sales, or levied against property – a tax is a tax is a tax.
This is attempting to generate solutions to our issues from the revenue side. Our problems are not with revenue. Our problems are with spending and borrowing.  
Here is the proposal, and below the proposal, find the suggested documents which would be assessed this fee:

MY Minutes: 2011.7.26 RCC Budget Committee Meeting

Jim Bellis of the Robertson County Times covered Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Budget Committee Meeting here.
Here are several of the keys I would like to highlight:
At the committee meeting held July 21, committee members had asked county department heads to revisit their individual budgets in search of additional areas that might be trimmed.
What resulted from the charge?
Collectively, those administrators came to the committee Tuesday night with a total of $58,944 in additional cuts, amounting to just under one-half-cent in property tax value.
Sheriff Bill Holt said that, after further examining his budget, he was optimistic about the possibility of receiving an additional $125,000 in revenue for federal inmates housed in the county’s detention center, reducing the potential property tax increase by one penny.
However, as I understand this effort by the Sheriff’s Department, this is not cutting as much as it is growing an estimate of bring more convicted federal criminals to our County.
Overall, approximately two cents were trimmed from the budget, bringing the potential property tax increase to 38 cents, which Ray said is still too much.
It is not enough.

Friday, July 29, 2011

UPDATED: County-By-County Analysis: Their Budgets

We are not the only County struggling with fiscal issues.
Here are what other counties are doing with their budgets.
What I will try to do is highlight some of the other discussions, issues and, most importantly, solutions they applied. Consider this a forum for discussion rather any endorsement of one idea over another.

Henry County: Protests after a $.15 increase.
Dyer County: It appears that Dyer County reluctantly broached just what charitable contributions should come from public coffers. Further, each department had a reduction of their budget by 4%.
Monroe County: Bleak, and more bleak.
Williamson County: $.23 increase
Obion County: Nothing definitive here with the exception of the 'wheel tax' proposal. Fees are taxes, too.
Anderson County: $.16 increase & $25 wheel tax
Carter County: $.14 increase
Please feel free to share any stories you may have. This is an open forum.

The Week of August 1st


August 1, 2011 – August 5, 2011
Date & Committee/Board           Time                    Location
Monday- August 1
Building & Grounds                        5:00 P.M.             RCOB                 
Tuesday- August 2
Budget                                                5:00 P.M.                    3rd Floor Conf. Rm.
(RE:  Continuation of 7-26 meeting)
Wednesday – August 3
Foster Care Review Board            9:00 A.M.                General Sessions
Thursday- August 4
Budget                                                 5:00 P.M.             3rd Fl. Conf. Rm.
(RE:  FYE 2012 Budget)                            
Re-Districting Committee            4:00 P.M.                    3rd Floor Conf. Rm.                          
Friday-August 5

2011.7.21 RCC Redistricting Committee Meeting

Last week, I discussed that the Redistricting Committee and convened and they would be meeting in the coming weeks.

Here is the Robertson County Times coverage of the meeting.
Note: Alderman Shoemaker’s statements on behalf of the City of Springfield. I find this sidebar somewhat curious as I am one of the four commissioners who represent the City of Springfield.

A Note on Chamber Notes

Great piece by Margot Fosnes on education in her ‘Chamber Notes’ column in this week’s Robertson County Times.
Margot attended the Rural Education Summit (hosted by SCORE), recently and is sharing what she gleaned:
In the end, the most important thing I learned from the summit was that employers and educators must listen to each other to begin a collaborative effort that addresses the challenges that are before us. Federal standards, while important and necessary, must not stand in the way of preparing students for their futures. And in education, as in so many other areas, we are going to need to think regionally, ignoring the arbitrary boundaries of cities and counties, in order to have the resources necessary to provide our children with the education they deserve.
…Certainly a collaborative effort for Robertson County to consider.

Clarksville-Montgomery County [School] ReZoning

What our neighbor is doing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Robertson County Schools / City of Springfield: Questions & Comments

Here are some comments that appeared in my posts regarding the Robertson County Schools here and here.
I thought I would take the opportunity to speak to those comments here for the benefit of all my readers.

MY Minutes: 2011.7.21 Budget Committee Meeting

You may have heard discussion about it already, but prepare for the Robertson County Budget Committee meeting (of Thursday, July 21, 2011) to be talked about over the next several days….at least, not until the next meeting which is currently scheduled for Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 5:00pm. (Recall the schedule I originally posted here.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011.7.18 RCC Legislative Committee Meeting

The following 'quoted block' is the draft minutes from the Robertson County Legislative Committee Meeting – many thanks to Commissioner Steve Haley (Legislative Committee Secretary / 11th District) for providing me with these minutes. 

Tennessee Unemployment Rate: June

Here is a quick look at Tennessee’s unemployment rate:
NASHVILLE — Tennessee's unemployment rate in June increased to 9.8 percent, up 0.1 percent from the May figure.
State Labor Commissioner Karla Davis said Thursday that the higher rate is a result of a "decline in employment combined with a slight expansion in the labor force."
The county-by-county numbers usually trickle out shortly after these state-by-state numbers.

Redistricting in Robertson County

I saw this article from the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle about the status of Montgomery County’s re-districting status and process.
It looks as though a re-districting committee completed an evaluation, analysis and proposal as a proposal is moving forward to their county commission.
Where is Robertson County in the redistricting process?
In the past couple of weeks, a committee has been constituted. Members include:
Commissioners -
Bobby Jones (Chariman) – 10th District
Carol Dugger (Secretary) – 5th District
James Bowens  – 12th District
Billy Vogle – 7th District
Tommy Baggett – 9th District
Ex-Officio / Non-Voting Members –
Cathy Hamsley, Administrator of Elections
Bob Hogue, Planning & Zoning
At our last Regular Commission Meeting, Chairman Bobby Jones gave a status report as to the committee’s progress.
The Committee has met with a representative of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office. An outline of objectives was presented to the Committee.
Chairman Jones advised that the Committee hopes to meet at least 2x a month until a proposal is formally submitted to the Robertson County Commission. Further, a proposal must be passed by year’s end.