LaVergne Needs to Put on Makeup

My first of two or three columns about LaVergne has been published in today’s Daily News Journal.  While I’m feeling very nervous about it, I did say that our town’s elected officials must “face the criticism that all really great leaders grapple with when they do the right thing.”  So here’s the column.  I’m ready to face the criticism.  But forgive me if I shuffle off every now and then to catch my breath and find comfort in the kindness of my family and friends.

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20 Responses

  1. Good article, Kathy, well said.

  2. Good article. One comment – schools are supposed to be good, and I’ve experienced that so far with elementary and middle school, however I’ve not heard many good things about LaVergne High School. So much so that I’m considering finding a way to have my kids attend Smyrna High School instead.

  3. I have a daughter at LHS and we love it there. Our only problem was that several AP classes have scheduling conflicts, so my daughter had to choose which she wanted more. AP English is winning out of AP Chemistry because with four years of English, she can test out at the end of her senior year for college credit. But overall our experience with LHS has been really good. The teachers are responsive if you have questions, and so are the other employees I’ve come into contact with. Kids… well kids are kids.

  4. That’s interesting Betsy, because I’ve heard many great things about LHS, and bad things about Roy Waldron and La Vergne Primary. I’ve got no kids in the schools, but I can tell you two main things I care about in La Vergne are increasing property values, and good schools (because they lead to increasing property values). I think on the school front we are making positive strides.

  5. per article:
    Residents do understand that lack of money is the rallying cry for not building more parks, planting trees, etc. To this end, we have actually asked about raising taxes, which was on the city’s agenda recently. This much-needed increase could be used to fund more police, to meet other federal emergency management mandates, hire more emergency personnel, improve sewers and roads, and add more trails. But when the former city finance director could not provide specifics, Alderwoman Senna Mosely refused to vote for it until she knew exactly how a proposed increase was being spent. Bravo Mrs. Mosely for understanding that she is personally accountable as an elected official.

    Kathi, what specifics were not answered???? Ralph Mullins came back and OK’d what I had prepared. Senna Moseley was not going to vote for this 67 cent property tax increase regardless. To call me out for not providing specifics when this budget that I had prepared was much more cleaner than in previous years is not fair to me.

    I specifically presented all council members with a T-chart on what would be added with the 50 cent budget in comparison to the 67 cent budget. For example, with the 50 cent budget, there were going to be 2 additional police officers hired and 2 additional cars purchased. 15 police cars had over 100,000 miles on it. I was wanting to set up every budget year a cycle for replacing cars and not have it come up all at once.

    Every dollar of the additional revenue was allocated to what was requested by the council from the emergency management mandate to the additional personnel being hired.

    Senna did not raise any objections to the 67 cent budget during the budget hearings. She was the one that wanted to spend $500,000 on the emergency mandate, and the way to fund this was a property tax increase.

    Once again, I have never met you. I am familiar with the blog you participate in, but Senna needed a way out not to support the 67 cent budget, and that way out was saying that I and the rest of the finance department would not be spent correctly.

    I would be interested in your comments. I can provide you whatever questions you may have, but it’s unfair to call me out in the DNJ when I have never met, talked, or emailed with you.

    Jason Kemp

  6. Great read.

  7. Ok I think the article was wonderful and was right to the point.

    I feel that if LFE has such a problem with crime in certain areas of that subdivision then why not take a few homes that are vacant and turn them into little police stations? This might could help curb the crime there. sub stations are something that would help I think. The area does need more retail and food places but there is not alot of land for developement unless you move out all the old businesses on south murf rd. down by Fergus rd.

  8. Oh boy!

    This is gonna be good!

    :eatingpopcornwhilewatching:

  9. Great article Kathy.

    I think it’s about time that La Vergne got some press. While we have to look at where we need improvement, it’s also good to put the positives out there as well. Sometimes we are so consumed by being a “bedroom community” that people forget to take pride in where they live. It starts with the small stuff.

  10. I know, just keep the old police cars and park them at each of the vacant home’s. Decoy’s…. 6 to 8 strategically placed old police cars moved every could weeks should do the trick!

  11. I know, just keep the old police cars and park them at each of the vacant home’s. Decoy’s…. 6 to 8 strategically placed old police cars moved every couple weeks should do the trick!

  12. Well!!! Jason I don’t think you really wanted to go where you did with me, but since you did here I go. First, lets start with the finance department. The ladies that work in that department have done a wonderful job and you need to remember that two quit under your supervision.(Thank Heavens they came back after you were gone) Second, I do not need a way out of anything. I stated and will state again. Until we get qualified people in positions to manage this city and account for our tax dollars, I WILL NOT vote for a tax increase. Last count I had there were five on the council. I don’t remember a single one of the others making a motion for a tax increase. There was three votes to my one.(The Mayor was out sick) As for presidental mandates on communications, do your homework. I have. If you were doing your job, why did the board feel that Ralph needed to come back? Last but certainly not least. I was elected in 2004 to work for each and every citizen in La Vergne and each department. I am doing my job to the very best of my ability. Maybe you should have been doing yours!!!
    Food for thought…..at the last Mayor/Alderman meeting a vote was taken to amend the 2006-2007 budget. The police department had 130,000 dollars left and it was moved else where to balance the budget out. Watch the meeting on Channel 3. I asked why… never got a good answer.

  13. Kathy, I am sorry I forgot to mention that your first piece was good. The thing I like about you the most is that you really do not take sides. You tell all of us what your think and you get to the bottom of comments that are in question. All elected officials need input from the citizens. I really appreciate the fact that you question all of us equally, and you reallly are a fact finder. Thanks for your honesty.

  14. Jason, the column states the reason Mrs. Mosely gave for not voting for the tax increase. Because it was her reason, it was her place to reply to your question which she did above.

    I definitely wonder why LaVergne is facing such financial hardship. Given the population, we really should be building a financial comfort level for the city rather than struggling like we do.

    Also, I really like Mark’s idea of setting up police sub-stations throughout the city. I’d love to see LaVergne buy a handful of homes in Lake Forest and in other areas, then set up satellite offices for the police and other departments that are overcrowded. Bring the city to the population.

  15. There were two factors unique to the recent budget process: new finance director and a proposed increase in property taxes. The Council wanted extra consultation on the proposed budget prior to casting their votes. Almost every department for the City spends money on professional services, it doesn’t mean that they are not doing their job.

    Many leadership positions in La Vergne have had high turnover recently. In the last six months, the Police Chief, City Planner, and Finance Director all have resigned from the City. I have not attended the last two Mayor/Alderman meetings as I resigned prior to the workshop on June 28th.

    The only time property taxes were talked about being raised was when the federal communications mandate was being discussed. $500,000 was going to be allocated towards this for the next three years. A one-cent increase in property taxes was going to generate approximately $65,000 in additional revenue. Once the talk of increasing property taxes was being discussed, then other additional spending was being presented by all of the Council members in the budget hearings. Smyrna raised taxes in for their FY06-07 budget and La Vergne was talking about doing the same for the FY07-08 by the same increase, and spending almost all of this increase on additional police, street maintenance and the complying with the federal communications mandate.

    This was conveyed very clearly to the Council with a side-by-side comparison on the 50 cent property tax budget and the 67 cent property tax budget. I had no opinion on how Council members voted on the budget as I was support staff for the Council, but to have a DNJ opinion piece saying that the reason for voting against was that “the former city finance director could not provide specifics” is not a fair reason.

  16. :crunchcrunchcrunch:

    Mmmmmm……….good popcorn!

  17. Kathy, I read your column in the DNJ and really enjoyed it. In fact, I was amused to find myself saying, “Hey, a real estate agent wrote this and it’s not all cotton candy and fluffery. Woo-hoo!” Hee. I should’ve realized that it would be much like your blog posts, though — hopeful yet necessarily blunt. Which is always a good thing, but especially in La Vergne. I know there’ll always be political disagreement (which actually is much better than in Murfreesboro, where everybody just bends over and accepts whatever Their Highnesses do), but it hasn’t dipped to the level of the mid- to late-80s yet, and that’s a relief.

    Keep up the good work. We have some folks in La Vergne who want to buy our house and are having a time selling theirs because of the “Little Antioch” effect (although they don’t live in LFE); I may just refer them to you when their contract runs out with the current agent.

  18. What the city could do is open these little police stations up and then hire some part time folks and train them ,which would be regular poeple that live in the area and have them work their neighborhood. This could get the folks of lavergne invovled with their city. This could also work with the neighborhood watch, have them work with this new group of police. It seems the problems are only a few hours during the night so the police that we could train would only work a few hours a night. I know that most crimes occure during the hours of 8pm and 2am.

  19. It was a great read Kathy!

  20. Well written piece.

    It takes infrastructure and population to attract retail organizations, La Vergne has the latter but not the former.

    A lot of work must be done make Murfreesboro Road into a desirable place for retail to set up shop, and it appears to be pretty disasterous city planning for that area to be as poorly designed as it is. But, being a brand new resident of La Vergne, I don’t know much about the background of the growth of the city.

    With as many residents as our city has now, you would think that our tax base would be strong enough to support such developmental improvements; I’m all for the beautification efforts of La Vergne.

    I do think that building population via low income housing is a bad deal though. But, as long as developers can convince city planners that building subdivisions of townhomes and homes on .10 acre lots is a good thing, I fear that our city is destined to turn into our neighbor to the north.

    Again, I think that a key to the development of our city is a standard on minimum lot sizes for new construction. In the long run, larger lot sizes command higher prices and citizens that can afford to make their area a nicer place to live. Given that Nashville prices continue to rise, La Vergne stands in a very nice fork in the road where we have the luxury of providing affordable housing that has high standards. It is neither La Vergne’s obligation nor should it be the city’s goal to be the low income, no money down option for Nashville’s citizens.

    However, given that developers can make more money cramming 5 townhomes on an acre than building two houses, it is up to the citizens of our city to demand the changes that our city desperately needs.

    I look forward to facing the next round of challenges that our city faces.

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