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Citizens of La Vergne – I wanted to take a few minutes to update you on the state of our city. I’m continuing the precedent we set last year to keep our citizens informed and up to date on city projects and accomplishments over the last fiscal year. The 2017-18 fiscal year just ended a month ago and during that time the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has made many changes to city ordinances that will improve the quality of life for all La Vergne Residents.
PROPERTY TAXES AND WATER AND SEWER RATES
Last month the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to lower property taxes from $0.95 to $0.71, which will ensure most residents will not see an increase in their property tax amount while also keeping the city fully funded. This year residents will also see another decrease in their water and sewer bills. The board passed Ordinance 2018-18 on July 3rd, which lowered the rate by 5%. We also completed a commercial and industrial water meter replacement project while will help us in our efforts to cut down on water loss.
CITY’S DEBT AND GENERAL FUND
Currently, the city’s debt is estimated to be $33 million, nearly $2 million less than last fiscal year. The city has been fortunate that sales tax revenues continue to increase. So, while we are spending more money, we are generating more revenues that take care of funding our city departments.
During this last year, we conducted a special census to get an accurate count of the people who live in our city. Final results recorded just under 35,000 people. The new total should bring in around a quarter-million dollars in annual state shared revenues. That money will be able to help pave city streets, hire new employees and complete other departmental projects or purchase new equipment.
IMPROVEMENTS TO EMERGENCY SERVICE DEPARTMENTS
Meanwhile, millions of dollars have been allocated for our police and fire departments.The fire department is hiring nine (9) new firefighters and has acquired a heavy rescue truck to replace Squad 2, which was totaled in an accident. Last July, the old Civic Auditorium was converted into the new fire administration building which gives residents a central location to take care of fire-related affairs such as burn permits, fire codes, fire safety and prevention, reports and other general information concerning the fire department.
As for the police department, they are in the process of hiring a new detective and will be hiring three (3) new police officers in January. They will also be purchasing four (4) new police vehicles and will be working toward purchasing new radio equipment that desperately needs to be replaced. Two (2) new grants will provide the department with new bulletproof vests as well as mobile devices designed for rapid fingerprint identification that they can use while out on patrol. Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of the Police Department we’ve been able to lower the crime rate within the city. According to SafeHome.org, La Vergne is the safest city in Rutherford County and the 10th safest city in the state.
WATER TREATMENT PLANT IMPROVEMENTS
Currently, the water treatment plant is working on a $1 million improvement project. The city has also budgeted $350,000 for SCADA upgrade.
SEWERThe city is currently working on replacing a portion of the lower east Hurricane Creek interceptor sewer. There is also a project in the works for a Sewer System Rehabilitation project in the Fergus Road Drainage Basin similar to the same type project that was already completed in the Hollandale Drainage Basin.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Many improvements are being made to help improve the quality of life for citizens. The Farmers Market regularly attracts hundreds of people to buy fresh produce, honey, and homemade products on a weekly basis. The city also remodeled the Public Library after being flooded by a water leak. The library also just completed its Summer Reading Program and this year had more than 900 people signed up to participate!
Our grant writer has applied for a dual purpose safe room for the city, which would operate as the Senior Center if approved, but will also serve as a safe place for citizens in the event of severe weather. More details will become available once FEMA has reviewed the applications and selected grant recipients.
The city has received a $500,000 THDA Home Improvement Grant. This grant gives low-income and senior citizens the chance to apply for money that will help improve their homes, and even go as far as replacing homes that are in disrepair.
Walmart also awarded the city a grant that will provide gifts at Christmas time for children as well as providing food for senior citizens.
I’m very excited to announce that the greenway is almost ready to be opened to the public! The company contracted to build the greenway will officially hand over the project to the city soon and we hope to have a ribbon cutting later this month or in early September.
While La Vergne also continues to be a “hub” for the warehouse and shipping industry you’ll also begin to see some major commercial growth in our city. I’m excited to announce that Planet Fitness will be officially opening its doors at the old Food Lion shopping center in late September or early October. We are excited about what we have seen in the last 12 months since hiring the city’s first Economic Development Specialist. He is spending countless hours having conversations with major commercial retailers and developers across the country about multiple key sites around the city. While we can’t announce at this time some of the companies who plan to set up shop in La Vergne, we can say that we are excited about the prospect of many new jobs coming to the city.
The Engineering Department is currently surveying Old Nashville Highway. Between 8,000 and 12,000 vehicles use the road every day and it is in desperate need of improvements. The surveying will tell us exactly what improvements will be best for the drivers who use the road every day. The city is working with the developer of Brookside to replace the narrow bridge on Carothers Road in early August. Meanwhile, the Mason Road project is coming along and we’re told that crews are on schedule and hope to be done by October.
The Engineering Department is also working on a 2040 City of La Vergne Transportation Plan which will lay out how we expect the city to grow over the next 22 years. It will give the Planning Commission an idea of where La Vergne’s roads will be in the future, what projects will need to be planned to accommodate those needs, and if any zoning changes are needed to be made for future land use. Right now, the department is reviewing the final draft and will hope to present it to the Planning Commission early next year.
I’m so grateful to have had the privilege to serve as your mayor for this past year. I’m excited about the growth we’ve seen these last 12 months and can’t wait to see what else the future has in store for our city. Thank you.