Friday, August 29, 2014

A Review of the 2014-15 Murfreesboro City Budget

For previous reviews see here: FY 2012-2013, and FY 2013-2014

This year's budget is 318 pages. I have tried to distill the budget into a short and meaningful review to enable the general public to see the primary figures. Any perceived bias for or against any department is just that, perceived. Due to the fact that personnel costs are by far the largest single expenditure, I feel it’s important to focus more attention on those figures. The only sector of City government I personally take issue with is the “recreational” sector which spends tens of millions on public leisure while we continue to go deeper into debt and lack the ability to even build a school without substantial federal grants.

Opening thoughts

Page 2 of the budget describes the cover photo and gives the general philosophical aim of the City and budget (which I think is a bit odd). However, what concerns me is the apparent mindset that our City leaders have, that of thinking the relatively prosperous times we have enjoyed thus far will continue indefinitely. On the page it declares that Murfreesboro is a city with a progressive mindset and that we have "adopted [the] ideology" espoused by American City Planner Danial Burnham who said, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work."

While it's true we need to plan for the future and that we need to work very hard to accomplish our goals (or dreams), to me it underlines the disturbing trend I mentioned above. Cities hit hard times, and thankfully we have been lucky. What City planners seem to forget however, is that to achieve their big plans and high aims, it must be paid for. And to pay for it, they must tax us and/or borrow money which we will still be paying off up to a decade from now - including the 10 year old child alive today who had no say in whether or not we spent millions on new tennis courts and yet will be paying for them the moment he or she gets a job or buys property.

My continual refrain is priorities, and until we re-evaluate them I will continue to talk about the issue.

Specific projects
  •  Implementing the transition from First Responder to Basic Life Support medical service provided by  the Fire & Rescue Department
  •  Continuing to move forward the relocation of the Police Department to a new headquarters on Highland Avenue
  •  Opening Overall Creek, a new elementary school east of Veteran’s Parkway
  •  Beginning construction of the Stones River Greenway extension to Barfield Crescent Park
  •  Begin the transition to new Police and Fire & Rescue radio communications system
  •  Building a public safety training facility on the Coleman Farm
  •  Maintaining the existing level of effective property tax rate, which is the 16th consecutive year without a property tax increase. The tax rate after reappraisal will be $1.2015, down from $1.2703
  •  Contributing to Middle Tennessee State University’s Science Building
  •  Moving to a new health insurance provider that will save almost $800K without a change in benefits to employees, their families or the City’s retirees
  •  Building an indoor tennis complex in conjunction with Middle Tennessee State University
  •  Constructing Joe B. Jackson Parkway, Veterans Parkway & Middle Tennessee Boulevard
  •  Replacing the legacy system currently used for financials & human resources information systems
  •  Renovating Sports*Com and McKnight Park
  •  Fund step increases and longevity pay for full‐time personnel
  •  Begin project to construct new headquarters for Rover
  •  Repaving $2 million in City streets from State gasoline taxes

Quick facts

This year's budget contains $122,543,147 in spending, which is an increase of 4.5% over FY 2014. Expenditures are $127,397,620, an increase of 4.3%. This gives us yet another year of planned deficit spending. Thankfully, the true amount of revenues and spending each year has prevented us from actually adding $5 million in deficit related debt each year (revenues tend to come in higher and spending doesn't rise to the budgeted amount). However, with the official budgets, the City is saying as a matter of policy, that it plans on spending more than it brings in year after year.

Once again the City also approved a 3.5% pay increase for City employees which equals $1.1 million.[pg. 12] The City has given pay increases that total a 14% pay raise since 2011 and a cost of $5.1 million.  For comparison, per capita income for residents only grows 2.1% annually. The City also brags about giving higher raises than other cities, including Chattanooga and Memphis - both cities have larger populations and far larger budgets. Every municipality says their employees are "the best", but I have no doubt that Murfreesboro City employees really are doing a great job. The problem is the only way they get a pay increase is if the City takes money from you and I. I'm not aware of many private sector jobs that give an annual 3.5% raise and fund 97% of retirement packages as well.

The IT Dept. has created a 5-year computer replacement program, anticipating replacing 20% of City computers each year.[pg. 67]

The cost per capita of Parks & Recreation is 11% higher than the state-wide average.[pg. 269]


As mentioned, budgeted revenues are $122,543,147, an increase of 4.5% over the budgeted revenues for FY 2014.[pg. 45] The largest revenue sources are from property taxes (29.6%) and sales taxes (29.3%). State and federal grants make up around 4.4% of revenues which equals ~$5,392,000.[pg. 54]

(click for larger image)

Revenues from FY 2009 to FY 2014 have increased 28.6% while expenditures have increased 33.1%. For a more specific breakdown of revenues, see pages 42-44 of the budget.


(Click for larger image)

Department changes since FY 2014 budget. 
General & Administration   +6.5%                                       Parking Garage   -36.3%
Legal   +1.9%                                                                   Parks & Rec   +8.4%
Human Resources   +6.6%                                                Public Golf Courses   -4.2%
Planning & Engineering   +6.7%                                         Solid Waste   -1%
Engineering   +39%                                                          Senior Citizens Dept.   +2.8%
Street Aid   +/- no change                                                 Community Development   +45.7%
Transportation   -20%                                                        Drug Fund   +25%
Information Technology   +17.7%                                       City Schools   +/- no change
Communications   +0.6%                                                  Other Gov. Agencies   +3.3%
Building   +3%                                                                 Chamber of Commerce   +8.8% 
Judicial   +3.6%                                                               Other Tourism +/- no change
Police   +4.1%                                                                 Debt Service Fund   -2.4%
Fire   +5.3%                                                                  
Urban Environment   -0.1%                                           
Civic Plaza   +11.4%

Personnel costs equal 47% of expenditures ($59,876,881), while operating costs equal 23% ($29,301,452).[pg. 57] Murfreesboro has the lowest personnel costs per full-time employee than the other 8 benchmark cities used in various studies to determine compensation, benefits, etc.[pg. 256] 

Departmental Reviews

Some minor funds will not be described below, however, any departments and funds with employees will be described.
The average total personnel cost (salary plus benefits) per employee figure is derived by taking the total amount of employee payments and dividing it by the total number of employees (including part-time employees). For some departments, I'll try to divide the two groups. The figure is only meant to give a general idea of the amount each employee is getting, obviously some will make more and others much less than this average figure.

Benefits include, Social Security, medical & dental insurance, pension plan, retirement, life insurance, and workers’ compensation.

The list of "various expenses" is not an all inclusive list of department expenditures.

     General Administration [pgs. 59-66] - budget is $4,621,589, with $2,068,835 in personnel costs, $2,530,404 in operating costs, and $22,350 for capital expenses. For the department, $889,067 goes to medical & dental expenses and $425,000 goes to retirement administration. The department has 34 employees which gives an average of $60,848/employee (salaries & benefits). Personnel costs equal 44.7% of the budget. 

Various expenses: $93,710 for office supplies and postage, $190,000 for utilities and phone, $26,700 for mileage and meals, $80,000 for association dues, and $42,000 for Christmas gift cards (for all eligible employees, not just the 34 GA employees). 

     Information Technology [pgs. 67-72] - budget is $1,789,835, with $935,995 in personnel costs, $668,300 in operating costs, and $185,540 for capital expenses. The department has 13 employees which gives an average of $71,999/employee. Personnel costs equal 52.2% of the budget.

Various expenses: $135,640 for computer replacements, $75,400 for G.I.S, $30,000 for utilities, $16,000 for office supplies, and $293,400 for IT consulting.

     Communications Department [pgs. 73-78] - budget is $733,502, with $552,669 in personnel costs, $145,633 in operating costs, and $35,200 for capital expenses. The department has 8 employees which gives an average of $69,083/employee. Personnel costs equal 73.3% of the budget. 

Various expenses: $28,350 for supplies, $3,600 for utilities, $1,700 for travel & meals, and $19,000 for video streaming and archiving.  

Accomplishments: there were over 1 million visits to the City's website, and 68,000 views of live streamed or archived videos (council meetings etc.).

     Legal [pgs. 79-82] - budget is $825,663, with $755,083 in personnel costs, $69,550 in operating costs, and $1,000 in capital expenses. The department has 7 employees which gives an average of $107,869/employee. Personnel costs equal 91.4% of the budget.

     Human Resources [pgs. 83-87] - budget is $973,282, with $696,906 in personnel costs, $259,050 in operating costs, and $17,326 in capital expenses. The department has 9 employees which gives an average of $77,434/employee. Personnel costs equal 71.5% of the budget. 

Various expenses: $25,000 for office equipment & software, $23,750 for supplies, $2,550 for utilities, $7,500 for background checks, $50,000 for drug screenings, and $80,000 for various studies.

This department also oversees the administration of the City's employee wellness program, "Boro-Fit". In 2014, 741 employees and dependents participated and the program identified 12 "critical care" cases.

     Judicial [pgs. 88-91] - budget is $474,774, with $393,024 in personnel costs, $68,250 in operating costs, and $13,500 in capital expenses. The department has 6 employees which gives an average of $65,504/employee. Personnel costs equal 82.8% of the budget.

     Police [pgs. 92-99] - budget is $26,145,249, with $21,107,755 in personnel costs, $4,832,194 in operating costs, and $205,300 in capital expenses. The department has 322 employees (285 full-time, 37 part-time) which gives an average of $65,552/employee. Personnel costs equal 80.2% of the budget. The department has 232 sworn officers, an increase of 3 officers over last year. There are also 53 civilian employees (including 25 dispatchers).

Various expenses: $8,000 for radios, $6,000 for guns, $65,000 for ammunition, $199,000 for office equipment, $15,000 for K-9, $140,000 for mobile data terminals (dash computers), $689,364 for fuel, $261,603 for uniform cleaning, $382,437 for insurance costs, $545,800 in utilities, and $900,000 for the red light camera program (a 34% increase over FY 2012).

2013 Accomplishments: Part I crimes fell by 2%. Homicides, rapes, robberies, assaults, and motor vehicle crimes are also down; larcenies and arsons increased. They responded to 101,940 calls (280/day), completes 29,084 official police reports, initiated 11,965 criminal charges, and issued 37,749 citations (15,442 violations and 22,307 warnings. The Office of Professional Responsibility completed 26 internal affairs investigations, processed 98 off duty jobs, and provided 1,110 copies of in-car video to officers, defense attorneys, and citizens.

     Fire & Rescue [pgs. 100-107] - budget is $16,527,475, with $14,941,163 in personnel costs, $1,475,112 in operating costs, and $111,200 in capital expenses. The department has 190 employees which gives an average of $78,637/employee. The department has 188 full-time positions, 171 of them regularly fight fires, the rest being administration etc. Personnel costs equal 89.6% of the budget.

Various expenses: $266,110 for the fleet, $198,200 for uniforms & clothing, $136,620 for fuel, $274,900 for utilities, $83,652 for training, $51,500 for Hazmat testing, and $5,522 for medical equipment.

2013 Accomplishments: The Fire & Rescue Department has a Class 2 rating placing the department in the top 1% of fire protection agencies in the United States. In 2013, the department responded to 10,313 calls. Through "Project SAFE" the department installed 164 smoke alarms. Throughout 2013, the estimated property value saved by the department was $7.5 million.

     Building & Codes [pgs. 108-112] - budget is $1,863,256, with $1,720,095 in personnel costs, $129,961 in operating costs, and $13,200 in capital expenses. The department has 23 employees giving an average of $74,787/employee. Personnel costs equal 92.2% of the budget.

Accomplishments & notes: In FY 2014, the department reviewed 650 commercial plans and revisions for permit issue. There has been a 46% increase in residential single-family permits and a 40% increase in commercial construction permits between FY 2012-14. This rise is expected to continue and the department expects an increase in revenues of $465,108 for this year (giving a total revenue of $2,365,508).

     Planning [pgs. 113-118] - budget is $964,388, with $618,088 in personnel costs, $332,200 in operating costs, and $14,100 in capital expenses. The department has 7 regular employees giving an average of $88,298/employee. Personnel costs equal 64% of the budget.

Various expenses: $45,900 for supplies, $10,400 for travel & meals, and $250,000 for surveys and studies.

FY 2014 accomplishments: reviewed 154 site plans, 165 preliminary & final subdivision plats, and 48 rezoning applications. The department also completed 13 annexation studies, attended 12 neighborhood meetings, and published 43 agendas for the appropriate boards & commissions.

     Transportation [pgs. 119-126] - budget is $2,338,997, with $1,357,881 in personnel costs, $865,305 in operating costs, and $115,791 in capital expenses. The department has 28 employees (18 full-time and 10 part-time) which gives an average of $48,496/employee. Personnel costs equal $58% of the budget.

Various expenses: $155,185 for Rover bus fuel, $4,000 for advertising, $14,225 in utilities, $176,425 in contract expenses (Relax & Ride, MCHRA), $200,000 for traffic signals, and $45,000 for street lights.

Stats & Accomplishments: The City operates 138 signalized intersections and adds roughly 4 more each year. Of the 138, eighty are interconnected and accessible from the City's Traffic Operations Center. And, 32 are coupled with CCTV cameras. This department also oversees the City's Rover Bus system which consists of 7 fixed routes.

For FY 2014, the department continued expanding the Relax & Ride program from 16 to 31 daily trips, and began to retrofit traffic lights, replacing incandescent bulbs with LED's.

Public transportation operations funding is generally split on a 50% federal 25% state, and 25% local cost basis. Capital funding on the other hand is split 8-% federal, 10% state, and 10% local.

     Engineering Department (divided into Engineering Division & Street Division).[pgs. 127-137]
The total budget is $7,633,371, with $2,959,817 in personnel costs, $4,640,354 in operating costs, and $33,200 in capital expenses. The department has 51 employees (44 full-time, 7 part-time) which gives an average of $58,035/employee. The department added 12 positions for FY 2015, 6 full-time and 6 part-time. Personnel costs equal 38.8% of the budget.

  •   Engineering Division [pgs. 127-130] -  The total budget for the year is $3,200,646 and is detailed under the Street Division's budget. The grant funded portion of road projects is included in the Engineering Department’s budget below.

This division's budget break down is: $1,096,996 in personnel costs and $2,103,650 in operating expenses. The division has 13 employees which gives an average of $84,384/employee, with personnel costs equaling 52.1% of the budget.[pgs. 134-136]

Goals: make improvements to Middle Tennessee Blvd between Main St. and Greenland Ave. For FY 2015, the City budgeted $1.2 million in grant funded expenditures for the project. The City anticipates receiving 80% of the cost from federal dollars.

Extend Cherry Lane which will become a 5-lane connector between State Route 840 and Memorial Blvd. Total cost of the project over 5 years will be $29,915,000, of which $25,263,000 (83.4%) will come from borrowing or current funds. For FY 2015, $600,000 in federally funded expenditures is budgeted.

Widen 2.1 miles of Bradyville Pike to a three-lane section with sidewalks, bike lanes, and transit shelters. Total cost is expected to be $7,378,400, of which the City's contribution is $366,880. For FY 2015, $71,200 is included in the budget.

Various expenses: $27,300 for fuel, $17,400 for utilities, $40,800 for travel & meals, $40,000 for landfill gas management, and $1,871,200 for road projects.

Accomplishments: reviewed 160 site plans, 120 preliminary & final plats, and 8 annexation requests. The department also processed 320 fence applications and 100 pool & fence applications. They also reviewed permits for approx. 520 additions and reviewed 700 lots for new home construction.

  •    Street Division [pgs. 131-137] - budget is $4,432,725, with $1,862,821 in personnel costs and $2,569,904 in operating & capital costs. The department has 38 employees which gives an average of $49,022/employee. Personnel costs equal 41.9% of the budget.

Various expenses: $222,976 for the fleet, $142,237 for fuel, $25,600 for office supplies, $45,800 for utilities, and $1,845,800 for street lighting costs.

FY 2014 accomplishments: maintained 593 linear miles of City streets and State Routes; collected 877 tons of leaves & yard waste; completed 48 stormwater projects; and cleared 108 linear miles of roadway during each of five winter events.

     State Street Aid [pgs. 138-140] -budget is $2,800,350, all of which is under operating costs.

Various expenses: $85,000 for traffic signals, $185,000 for street markings, $2,050,000 for street paving & construction, and $75,000 for traffic lights.

The State Street Aid Department includes funding from the State's Fuel Tax Allocation to the City, which is based on population. The Engineering Department oversees maintenance projects funded by this department and covers expenditures to maintain state streets located within the City limits.

     Urban Environmental [pgs. 144-148] - budget is $1,111,133, with $882,405 in personnel costs, $201,453 in operating costs, and $27,275 in capital expenses. The department has 15 employees which gives an average of $58,827/employee. Personnel costs equal 79.3% of the budget.

Various expenses: $61,100 for agricultural services, $$12,785 for fleet maintenance, $26,367 for fuel, $47,000 for utilities, and $2,000 for a computer tablet.

This department is responsible for the overall beauty of the City which includes landscaping and other primarily arboricultural projects. It manages 50 City owned properties and 2.2 million square feet of turf and landscaped areas.

     Civic Plaza [pgs. 149-151] - budget is $76,781, with $41,512 in personnel costs, $33,769 in operating costs, and $1,500 in capital expenses. The department has one groundskeeper with personnel costs equaling 54% of the budget.

Since Rutherford County owns a portion of the plaza, the maintenance costs are shared: 58.5% City and 41.5% County. The Plaza is maintained by the Urban Environmental Dept.

     Parking Garage [pgs. 152-154] - budget is $117,490 with no employees.

Various expenses: $5,400 for sweeping and $106,000 for electricity.

The parking garage (under Civic Plaza, City Hall and the library) is also jointly funded, with 68.5% coming from the City and 31.5% County.

     Parks & Recreation [pgs. 155-166] - budget is $12,697,529, with $6,227,150 in personnel costs, $2,572,975 in operating costs, and $3,897,404 in capital expenses. The department has 341 employees (74 full-time and 267 part-time) The salaries (excluding benefits) for full-time employees average $40,138, and the wages for part-time employees average $6,643. The total salary & benefit average when divided by all employees comes to $18,264/employee. Personnel costs equal 48.6% of the budget.

Various revenues: $1,556,471 from recreation activity income and $1,638,474 from greenway grants.

Various expenses: $288,305 for lawn maintenance, $39,240 for advertising, $73,443 for fuel, $1,072,990 for utilities (nearly 65% is electricity costs), $7,300 for park movies, $36,720 for Sports*Com,  $39,145 for Patterson Community Center, $650 for an iPad, $400 for a TV, $200 for an Xbox 360 console, and $146,800 for various tennis facility expenses.

Stats & Accomplishments: Parks & Rec maintains approx. 1,115 acres worth of parks and greenways and $150 million in assets, which includes 28 sites and 74 buildings. According to the budget, the tournaments held in Murfreesboro which use public facilities have an estimated economic impact of $28 million/year. In FY 2013 there were an estimated 55,345 paid rounds of golf played.[pg. 285]

     Senior Citizens Dept. [pgs. 167-171] - budget is $955,660, with $631,246 in personnel costs, $309,414 in operating costs, and $15,000 in capital expenses. The department has 19 employees (9 full-time, and 10 part-time) which gives an average of $33,223/employee. Personnel costs equal 66% of the budget.

Notes & Accomplishments: The Senior Citizens Department operates the St. Clair Street Senior Center. In FY 2013, around 3,260 individual seniors visited the Center and in FY 2014, 223 volunteers put in 12,293 hours of service.

     Public Golf Course Dept. [pgs. 178-189] - the combined budget of all three golf courses (Old Fort, VA, and Bloomfield) is $1,974,268, with $1,288,649 in personnel costs, $664,919 in operating costs, and $20,700 in capital expenses. There are 55 employees (14 full-time, and 41 part-time). Full-time salaries are $683,981 (an avg. of $48,856/employee) and part-time wages are $267,646 (an avg. of $6,529/employee). Total salary & benefits for all employees averages out to $23,430/employee, with personnel costs equaling 65.2% of the budget.

The total budget breakdown for each golf course is: $1,606,594 for Old Fort, $309,831 for the VA course, and $57,843 for Bloomfield.

Various expenses: $62,535 for operations & maintenance, $91,000 for agricultural supplies, $10,000 for advertising, $73,600 for utilities, and $232,500 for purchases for resale.

     Solid Waste Dept. [pgs. 190-195] - budget is $4,532,159, with $2,392,130 in personnel costs, $2,128,029 in operating costs, and $12,000 in capital expenses. The department has 42 employees (41 full-time, 1 part-time) which gives an average of $56,955/employee. Personnel costs equal 52.6% of the budget.

Various expenses: $1,091,123 for fleet operation & maintenance, $511,471 for fuel, $133,360 for vehicle insurance, $66,000 for utilities, and $175,000 for disposal carts.

FY 2014 Accomplishments: The Department services 42,500 households and 6,000 businesses, with more than 50,000 trash cans being serviced weekly. The department logged 381,945 miles, and picked up 66,376 tons of garbage and yard waste, of that, 16,780 pounds (7.6 tons) was hazardous waste.

      Health, Education, and Welfare [pgs. 196-198] - budget is $2,227,919 with no listed employees. The key expenditure breakdown is: $1,356,287 for "other government", $239,750 for economic development, $518,992 for tourism, and $112,890 for outside agencies.

Various expenditures: 
  • Other government - $11,000 to the Health Dept, $51,000 to the TN Rehab. Center, $783,174 to Linebaugh Library, $106,780 to Myrtle Glanton Library, $68,500 to Animal Control, $2,500 for soil conservation, and $333,333 to MTSU. 
  • Tourism - $358,992 to the Chamber of Commerce, $25,000 for TSSAA, $20,000 to Discovery House, $37,500 to Main Street, $7,500 for the Murfreesboro Youth Orchestra, $10,000 for the Murfreesboro Symphony, $15,000 to the Oaklands Association, and $2,000 to the Area-16 Special Olympics.
  • Outside Agencies - $5,000 to Crime Stoppers, $10,000 to the Hope Clinic, $10,000 to Meals on Wheels, $2,500 to the Boys & Girls Club, $19,890 to the Child Advocacy Center, $10,000 to Special Kids, and $2,000 for Second Harvest.
Funding for the public library system is divided on a 44% City and 56% County basis.

     Fund Transfers [pgs.199-201] - These transfers are movements of funds between City departments. The total for this year is $31,307,698, with $26,397,595 going to Debt Service, $4,810,103 to City Schools, and $100,000 to the Drug Fund.

     Debt Service Fund [pgs. 206-214] - budget is $30,151,444 with $5,375,816 going to interest payments (up 6.4% over last year).

The City has a credit rating of AA from Standard & Poor's and Aa2 from Moody's, both of which are very good ratings.

In FY 2014, the City issued $29.35 million in fixed rate bonds at a rate of 2.67% interest. The bonds will mature in 15 years. For FY 2015, the City plans to issue $35 million in new debt, primarily to support the remodel of the new Police headquarters on Highland Ave.

The City currently has $264,480,057 in long-term debt, a net increase of $17,634,632 over last year. Of that, $207,604,585 is projected to be subject to the City's debt limit. The City's projected debt limit for this year is $453,646,832 (which is based on a fixed percentage of assets by law), which means the debt would be 54.24% of the debt limit.

Every time the issue of new debt arises, the discussion usually ends up like this, "we should go ahead and borrow more because 91% of our debt will paid off in 10 years." This has caused a fair amount of confusion among the average citizens of Murfreesboro. What the City means by that is, 91% of the debt we currently hold will be paid off in 10 years. Any new debt will be paid off 10-15 years from the day it is borrowed. Simply put, our City leaders plan on us always having debt and on always borrowing.

     Airport Fund [pgs. 215-221] - budget is $4,210,291, with $204,296 in personnel costs, $1,324,175 in operating costs, and $2,681,820 in capital expenses. The department has 7 employees (6 part-time, 1 full-time) which gives an average of $29,185/employee. Personnel costs equal 4.8% of the budget.

Various revenues: $376,243 from hangar rentals, $2,662,230 from state grants, and $1,086,258 from fuel sales & fees. The airport receives all of its funding from its own operations and grants, it does not come from other City funds.

Various expenses: $14,951 for supplies, $45,350 for utilities, $4,600 for travel & meals, $898,372 for purchases that will be resold, $2,362,840 for runway extension, and $318,980 for other improvements.

     Drug Fund [pgs. 222-224] - budget is $316,600, with $110,000 in personnel costs, $152,700 in operating costs, and $53,900 in capital expenses. There are no stand-alone employees as this fund is directed by the Police Dept.

Various revenues: $100,000 from court fines, $100,000 fund transfers, and $100,000 from seizures.

Various expenses: $20,000 for the fleet, $9,000 for a drug dog, $2,000 for office supplies, $19,800 for utilities, $70,000 for undercover operations, $10,000 for employee training, and $35,000 for a new truck.

The Drug Fund accounts for revenue from drug fines and confiscated property seized by the
Murfreesboro Police Department. The fund is used to support additional drug enforcement activities by the Police Department and to provide anti‐drug education programs in local schools.

     Risk Management Fund [pgs. 234-237] - budget is $3,607,863, with $295,609 in personnel costs, $3,310,754 in operating costs, and $1,500 in capital expenses. The department has 3 full-time employees which gives an average of $98,536/employee. Personnel costs equal 8.2% of the budget.

Various expenses: $9,100 for supplies, $2,109,802 for claims, $1,400 for utilities, $568,633 for fund transfers, $45,000 for legal services, and $80,000 for computer software.

Risk Management is responsible for maintaining the City’s self‐insured programs in property, liability and workers’ compensation insurance and for procuring special and excess risk insurance in key areas.

     Fleet Services [pgs. 238-342] - budget is $2,373,865, with $948,092 in personnel costs, $1,403,523 in operating costs, and $22,250 in capital expenses. The department has 13 full-time employees which gives an average of $72,930/employee. Personnel costs equal 39.9% of the budget.

Various expenses: $34,124 for supplies, $78,000 for utilities, $730,000 for parts, $60,000 for lubricants, $305,000 for vendor services, $150,000 for tires, and $12,000 for computer software.

The Department manages over 730 pieces of rolling stock.

Job Classification & Compensation Plan
From budget pages 311-316.

The City has 806 full-time employees, an increase of 15 from last year. Total personnel costs equal $59,876,881 which is an increase of 1.8% over last year. Simply using the number of employees and total personnel costs, the average pay per employee would be $74,289 (benefits included).
The City’s compensation plan is divided into nine steps, with Step 1 being the lowest. The top pay grade is the City Manager at $169,591/yr (at maximum level), and the lowest is $21,000/yr for the night watchman in the Solid Waste Dept. (entry level).

Additional reading:
To view the budget you can visit the City's webpage for it. The budget listed in the proposed budget, however it was passed with very few changes.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 2014 Primary - State & Local

This is a review of the August 7, 2014 Primary & County General elections. For a review of the May 6, 2014 Rutherford County GOP Primary, see here.

Here is the review of the Aug. 7, 2014 Primary and County General elections. I have included some of the Primary results for the Democrat races as well. To make things easier, I've split the election in two. To read the review of the Aug. 7 U.S Senate and House primary, click here

Excluding the governor's race and federal offices which I dealt with in the previous post (along with several Democrat ticket positions*) there were 62 positions sought by 110 people. Of whom, 53 were declared Republicans, 37 were listed as "Independents" (several of these were for non-partisan races, others were actually Democrats and thought it would be wise to change their affiliation), and 20 declared Democrats. There were also 13 judicial positions for which we had the option of retaining or replacing the current judges.

General Vote Totals 

As noted before, 32,675 votes were cast (federal & state races). Early and absentee votes accounted for 53.7% (17,572) of all votes cast, leaving 15,103 votes cast on election day. This equates to a voter turnout of 21.3% based on the number of registered voters. 

Here's the number of votes & turnout percentages for each precinct. Since the official Election Commission report curiously did not provide the turnout figures, I have taken the time to compute them myself, however, they're based on the number of voters in 2013, so they may be slightly off the true 2014 percentage. 

Precinct #
1-1 = 563 votes (turnout 11.8%); 2-1 = 1,026 (28.2%); 2-2 = 817 (27%); 2-3 = 454 (78%) 
3-1 = 772 (27.2%); 3-2 = 711 (27.4%); 4-1 = 656 (23%); 4-2 = 348 (27.1%)
4-3 = 565 (31.4%); 4-4 = 424 (41%); 5-1 = 433 (18%); 5-2 = 299 (12.5%) 
6-1 = 1,129 (36.7%); 6-2 = 927 (26.3%); 7-1 = 630 (25.3%); 7-2 = 964 (26.7%) 
8-1 = 958 (34.2%); 8-2 = 309 (33.4%); 8-3 = 587 (34.4%); 8-4 = 424 (32.7%)
9-1= 843 (24.3%); 9-2 = 798 (23.3%); 10-1 = 689 (22%); 10-2 = 734 (24.5%) 
11-1 = 679 (25.8%); 11-2 = 606 (22.5%); 12-1 = 427 (18.6%); 12-2 = 445 (22.1%) 
13-1 = 699 (25%); 13-2 = 638 (22.2%); 14-1 = 1,572 (41.1%); 14-2 = 1,442 (38.3%) 
15-1 = 1,169 (39.4%); 15-2 = 1,034 (31%); 16-1 = 710 (22%); 16-2 = 203 (32%) 
16-3 = 420 (21%); 17-1 = 489 (16.2%); 17-2 = 61 (8.2%); 17-3 = 32 (7.6%)
18-1 = 653 (21.6%); 18-2 = 760 (33.3%); 19-1 = 635 (22.3%); 19-2 = 660 (23.8%) 
20-1 = 877 (24.7%); 20-2 = 781 (23.2%); 21-1 = 592 (20.5%); 21-2 = 1,031 (37.5%)

The precinct with the highest voter turnout was 2-3 (Milton Fire Hall) at 78%. The lowest voter turnout came from 17-3 (Buds Tire) at a mere 7.6%. Despite having an adult population of nearly 1,000 and at least 419 registered voters, the Buds Tire precinct generally has the lowest voter turnout of any precinct. 

Election Highlights

-----In the race for TN House Rep. District 37, Murfreesboro City Councilman Eddie Smotherman, challenged sitting State Rep. Dawn White. Rep. White won re-election 70.99% to 28.88% (6,139 votes cast).

-----One of the most contested races was for Rep. Joe Carr's seat in District 48. There were three candidates vying for the position: Adam Coggin, Rick Peppers, and Dr. Bryan Terry. In terms of view points and strategy, Coggin and Peppers were very similar, which in a 3-way race, made them vulnerable because they drew from identical voter blocks. Dr. Terry on the other hand, distinguished himself early on with his ideas and played a very hard - and fair - ground game. His team knocked on pretty much every door in the district at least once and his mailers were positive and message based. This worked very well.

Bryan Terry - 38.04% (2,669)
Adam Coggin - 31.57% (2,215)
Rick Peppers - 30.3% (2,126)
Write-in - 0.1% (7)
Total votes: 7,017

Out of the 17 precincts that make up the 48th District, Dr. Terry won 8 and tied with Adam Coggin in another. Dr. Terry's highest vote percentage came from precinct 4-1 where he won 48.16%. Adam Coggin won 5 precincts (plus the tie), and Rick Peppers won 3 precincts. 

-----Another contested Primary was for State House Dist. 49 between incumbent Mike Sparks and current County Commissioner, Robert Stevens. Rep. Sparks won with 54.16% (2,287 votes) while Commissioner Stevens garnered 45.82% (1,935 votes). 

-----For the Tennessee Republican Party's State Executive Committee's General Election, Rutherford County was split between two SEC districts, District 13 and District 14. Each SEC district is represented by a male and a female representative. For SEC Dist. 13, only one male candidate, incumbent Tim Rudd, qualified to appear on the ballot, while Walter Hill resident James Gann organized a write-in campaign. Mr. Rudd won with 98.39% (11,143 total votes cast). Considering the relatively obscure nature of SEC's and that write-ins almost never work, Mr. Gann's 179 votes were still a good showing. 

In the Dist. 13 GOP SEC committeewoman race, Kelsey Ketron won 67.23% (8,174 votes) over Mishelle Perkins' 32.58% (3,961). 
For the Dist. 14 committeemen race, Lance Frizzell won 55.75% (3,363) to Jim Sandman's 43.97% (2,652). And for Dist. 14 committeewoman, Lynne Davis won 60.39% (3,625) compared to Joanne Skidmore's 39.36% (2,363).   

-----The County Commission's General Election was also held on the 7th. Most of the Commission is comprised of Republicans, however Commission Dist. 21 has been held by Democrat Chantho Sourinho since 2010. The race between Commissioner Sourinho and Republican Patsy Briley was incredibly close. Sourinho barely maintained his seat, 49.9% to Briley's 49.69% - a minuscule 3 votes difference. There were 1,467 votes cast for Dist. 21, making 3 votes 0.2% of the total. There were 6 votes cast for a write-in candidate. 

-----Two Republican challengers for judge won their races. Barry Tidwell won 52.79% against David Loughry's (I) 47.16% for General Sessions Judge Part II. And, Councilmen Toby Gilley won 66.86% against Larry Brandon's (D) 47.16% for General Sessions Judge Part III. Gilley's win will open up a Murfreesboro City Council seat which will be filled later this year. 

-----As during the May 6th Primary, the General Election for Sheriff on Thursday was hotly contested. Despite Sheriff Robert Arnold's May Primary victory, he simply cannot seem to shake the fact that many citizens of Rutherford County do not support him and the marks against him continue to rise. So, since this election was indeed the County General, Dale Armour and Jim Tramel decided to run against Arnold as "Independents" (since they couldn't run as a Republicans), not to mention Democrat Bill Kennedy. Despite all this, Arnold managed to win re-election, and, with more than 50% of the vote overall. 

Robert Arnold (R) - 51.9% (16,333)
Dale Armour (I) - 28.33% (8,917)
Bill Kennedy (D) - 17.49% (5,503)
Jim Tramel (I) - 2.25% (708)
Write-in - 0.03% (9 votes)
Total votes: 31,470

-----Finally we come to the issue of retaining or replacing the judges of Tennessee's Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals. There were 13 judges up for replacing.  Despite a grassroots campaign to replace them all - especially the Supreme Court judges - all judges were able to retain their seats. Even in Rutherford County, only one judge, Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark, was voted "out"; state-wide however, she was able to keep her seat. In fact, the votes to "retain" the judges were anywhere from 20-50% higher than those for "replace". 

Individual Races - County Results
Democrat Primary

Charles V. Brown - 35.44% (1,863)
Kennedy S. Johnson - 34.62% (1,820)
William "John" McKamey - 21.7% (1,141)
Ron Noonan - 7.55% (397)
Write-in - 0.68% (36)
Total: 5,257

U.S. Senate
Terry Adams - 39.09% (2,170)
Gordon Ball - 38.66% (2,146)
Larry Crim - 11.87% (659)
Gary G. Davis - 10.14% (563)
Write-in - 0.23% (13)
Total: 5,551

Democrat SEC Dist. 13
Tommy Bragg 74.64% (2,925)                               Mary Ann Eckles - 67.13% (2,583)                    
Darrell Bouldin 25.31% (992)                                  Kimberli R. Jensen - 32.8% (1,262)
Write-in 2 (0.05%)                                                 Write-in 3 (0.08%)

Democrat SEC Dist. 14
Mark Farrar - 99.82% (1,634)                                  Joan G. Hill - 50.27% (845)
Write-in 3 (0.18%)                                                   Brenda Ables - 49.43% (831)
                                                                              Write-in - 5 (0.3%)

Republican Primary

TN Senate Dist. 13 - Bill Ketron, unopposed, 99.31% out of 12,581 votes.
TN House Dist. 34 - Rick Womick, unopposed, 99.16% out of 5,500 votes.  

County General
Winners in bold.

County Mayor
Ernest G. Burgess (R) - 69.38% (20,493)
Heather A. Brown (I) - 20.82% (6,150)
Teresa St. Clair (I) - 9.65% (2,850)
Write-in - 0.15% (44)
Total: 29,537

Circuit Court Judge 16th Div I –  Jeff L. Peach (R) 45.24% | Mark Rogers (I) 54.69% out of 29,095 votes.
Circuit Court Judge 16th Div II – David Bragg (I) 54.91% | Nathan Nichols (R) 45.02% out of 28,332 votes.
Circuit Court Judge 16th Div III – Keith Siskin (R), unopposed, 99.25% out of 22,557 votes.
Circuit Court Judge 16th Div IV  – Royce Taylor (I), unopposed, 99.72% out of 22,597 votes.
Chancellor 16th Judicial District  – Howard W. Wilson (R), unopposed, 99.52% out of 21,914 votes.
Dist Atty Generl 16th Dist – Jennings H. Jones (R), unopposed, 99.35% out of 22,972 votes.
Public Defender 16th Dist – Gerald L. Melton (R), unopposed, 99.59% out of 22,361 votes.
County Commission Dist 01 – Doug Shafer (R), unopposed, 95.67% out of 416 votes.
County Commission Dist 02 – Steve Pearcy (R), unopposed, 98.54% out of 1,844 votes.
County Commission Dist 03 – Will Jordan (R), unopposed, 99.73% out of 1,09 votes.
County Commission Dist 04 – Jon Jaques (R) 39.34% | Jon Frazier (I) 19.27% | Robert Peay (I) 41.28% out of 1,749 votes.
County Commission Dist 05 – Carol Cook (R), unopposed, 98.87% out of 530 votes.
County Commission Dist 06 – Joe Frank Jernigan (R), unopposed 83.54% out of 1,634 votes (16.46% went to "write-in").
County Commission Dist 07 – Michael Kusch (R), unopposed, 98.74% out of 1,109 votes.
County Commission Dist 08 – Edward Phillips (R) 32.05% | Pettus L. Read (I) 37.98% | Steve Spence (I) 29.92% out of 2,122 votes.
County Commission Dist 09 – Joe A. Gourley (R), unopposed, 99.75% out of 1,186 votes.
County Commission Dist 10 – Brad Turner (R), unopposed, 99.3% out of 1,006 votes.
County Commission Dist 11 – Rhonda Allen (R), unopposed, 98.91% out of 915 votes.
County Commission Dist 12 – Robert Stevens (R), unopposed, 99.67% out of 612 votes.
County Commission Dist 13 – Paul Johnson (R) 68.62% | Chris Deal (I) 31.21% out of 1,144 votes.
County Commission Dist 14 – Charles Baum (R) 76.66% | Tony B. Gaines (I) 23.3% out of 2,558 votes.
County Commission Dist 15 – David Nipper (R) 62.09% | Tim Roediger (I) 37.69% out of 1,820 votes.
County Commission Dist 16 – Phillip Sugg Dodd (R), unopposed, 99.23% out of 904 votes.
County Commission Dist 17 – Jeff Phillips (R), unopposed, 99.04% out of 416 votes.
County Commission Dist 18 – Allen McAdoo (R), unopposed, 99.15% out of 942 votes.
County Commission Dist 19 – Shawn Kaplan (R), unopposed, 99.23% out of 908 votes.
County Commission Dist 20 – Trey Gooch (R), unopposed, 99.58% out of 1,186 votes.
County Commission Dist 21 – Patsy L. Briley (R) 49.69% | Chantho Sourinho (D) 49.9% out of 1,457 votes.
County Trustee – Teb Batey (R), unopposed, 99.64% out of 23,842 votes.
General Sessions Judge Part I – Kevin Hodges (R) 39.9% | Ben Hall McFarlin (I) 60.05% out of 28,927 votes.
General Sessions Judge Part II – 
David Loughry (I) 47.16% | Barry Tidwell (R) 52.79% out of 27,971 votes.
General Sessions Judge Part III – Larry D. Brandon (D) 33.1% | Toby Gilley (R) 66.86% out of 29,541 votes.
Juvenile Court Judge – Donna Scott Davenport (R), unopposed, 99.61% out of 24,590 votes.
Circuit Court Clerk – Melissa Harrell (R) 75.35% | Avent Lane (D) 24.58% out of 29,178 votes.
County Clerk – Lisa Duke Crowell (R), 75.76% | Pierrecia Lyons (D) 24.19% out of 29,278 votes.
Register of Deeds – Heather Dawbarn (R), unopposed, 99.64% out of 22,868 votes.

Smyrna Town Court Judge
Lynn E. Alexander (I) - 46.07%
Keta J. Barnes (I) - 24.58%
Jeremy Gourley (I) - 13.18%
Cherie W. Meece (I) - 8.69%
W. Alan Rose (I) - 7.36%
Write-in - 0.11%
Total votes: 3,694

Smyrna Town Court Clerk Terry D. Davenport (I) 55.71% | Lisa K. R. Wagner (I) 44.2% out of 3,468 votes.

Road and School Board positions are non-partisan. 

Road Board Zone 1 – David "Rabbit" Victory, unopposed, 99.66% out of 2,066 votes.
Road Board Zone 2 – Keith Bratcher, unopposed, 99.64% out of 3,089 votes.
Road Board Zone 4 – Dick Steagall, unopposed, 99.75% out of 3,616 votes.
School Board Zone 1 – Aaron B. Holladay, unopposed, 99.48% out of 1,934 votes.
School Board Zone 3 – Veronica Buchanan 32.91% | Howard Jones 32.87% | Lisa Moore 34.13% out of 4,533 votes.
School Board Zone 4 Wayne R. Blair 81.92% | Eric Tuttobene 17.78% out of 3,994 votes.

School Board Zone 7
Jim C. Estes 37.35% 
Patrick McCarthy 22.66%
Gabriel Fancher 18.72% 
Jody Lynn Bond 15.09% 
Paul L. Peavy 5.76% 
Write-in - 0.42%
Total votes: 4,493 votes

To see detailed county results, visit the Rutherford County Election Commission's report on the primary.
For state-wide results on all the other races, you can see their report here.

* I've decided not to review most of the Democrat Primary races, except for Governor and U.S. Senate, because they have almost no chance of winning the General Election. I excluded the State races because several lacked qualified candidates, and for those which did have a candidate they ran unopposed. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

2014 GOP Primary Review - U.S. Senate & House

This is a review of the Aug. 7, 2014 Federal Primaries for Tennessee. For a review of the Aug. 7, Rutherford County Primaries and County General Election, see here.

Wow, the Aug. 7th, 2014 Republican Primary really turned out to be a nail-biter. From the U.S. Senate & House, to state and even local races, I feel this year's primary is one for the books.

I want to spend some extra time discussing the race for Senate and House District 4 before moving on to the more local campaigns, so I've divided this review into two parts. The second will cover the local, county-centric races.

For Rutherford County, early and absentee voting accounted for 53.8% of votes cast. There were a total of 32,675 votes cast (includes GOP and Democrat voters) and voter turnout was 21.3% (based on the latest figure of 153,107 registered voters).

There was no real attempt to challenge Bill Haslam for governor and he ended up winning around 86% state-wide (84% for the county). What I find amusing is that Mark "Coonrippy" Brown came in 2nd, earning 8.16% of the vote in Rutherford County, and about the same across the state.

While the final campaign financial reports aren't in, we can see from the FEC reports up to July 18 that this was a very expensive primary, with at least $9,056,790 raised and $6,654,165 spent (equaling $10.01/vote).

Lamar Alexander raised  $6,165,954 and spent $5,173,937. ($15.68/vote)
Joe Carr raised $1,078,586 and spent $931,420. ($3.45/vote)
George Flinn raised $1,812,250 and spent $548,808 (in debt $1,805,205 (self loan)). ($15.67/vote)

(Click for larger image)

Here are the Rutherford County vote totals:
Joe Carr - 15,318
Lamar Alexander - 8,281
George S. Flinn - 402
Brenda S. Lenard - 184
Christian Agnew - 174
John D. King - 103
Erin Kent Magee - 47
Write-in - 18                        
Total votes 24,527

Lamar actually won one precinct in Rutherford County, precinct 14-1. He won by five votes out of 1,248 cast.

Given Alexander's long history in the state and the fact that he's had basically a state-wide campaign machine for decades, there was little doubt as to who would win the primary. That said, the fact that he won with less than 50% of the vote sends a clear message that Tennesseans are tired of career politicians and desire real change and real conservative leadership. His primary showing was nearly 15 points lower than in 2008. What is surprising, is how close Joe Carr really came (within 9%), generally overcoming his duel handicaps of low name recognition and comparatively small finances. Not to mention he won Davidson County and nearly doubled Lamar's total in Rutherford! Carr also came within 2% or less of winning Cumberland, Fayette, Gibson, and Giles counties, and was within 5% in 2 other counties.

We can only hope that this will spur Lamar into being a somewhat more conservative Senator, and we should remind him of how dissatisfied Tennesseans are with him to help him make the right choices.

U.S. House, District 4
This race was another hotly contested race with 6 candidates all vying to unseat Scott DesJarlais. I feel people under and over estimated (in different ways) both DesJarlais and his main competitor, Jim Tracy. Some thought DesJarlais would easily win because of his conservative record, but once you look at it you find it isn't very conservative at all. Others thought Tracy would easily win because he far out raised DesJarlais, but with Jim too, his support for Common Core and his wishy-washy stances on other issues knocked him down a few rungs. Tracy also underestimated how non-relevant DesJarlais' past scandals were while he seemed to hinge his whole campaign on "integrity". The end result is what has to be the closest congressional primary in 4th District history (if not the whole state). At last check, DesJarlais was up by a mere 35 votes

Here's a look at campaign finances (as of July 18):

Scott DesJarlais raised $433,925 and spent $330,369. ($9.50/vote)
Jim Tracy raised $1,404,482 and spent $1,100,800. ($31.68/vote)
Oluyomi "Fapas" Faparusi raised $57,497 and spent $56,261. ($198.10/vote)
Steve Lane raised $32,815 and spent $31,608. ($21.31/vote)
The other candidates raised less than $5,000 each and were not required to file FEC reports.
Based on the four above, the candidates brought in $1,928,719 and spent $1,519,038 ($19.60/vote).

And vote totals:

(Click for larger image)

There were 77,492 total votes which was far greater than the 2012 primary in which 47,015 people voted (an increase of 64.8%). For Rutherford County, 24,164 people voted in this race, up from 13,646 in 2012 (an increase of 77%).

                  District-wide vote totals                                    Rutherford County vote totals
Scott DesJarlais – 34,787                                                 8,898
Jim Tracy – 34,752                                                         13,587
John Anderson – 4,590                                                        741
Steve Lane – 1,483                                                              530
David R. Tate – 937                                                             168
Michael S. Warden – 659                                                     139
Oluyomi "Fapas" Faparusi, Sr. – 284                                      89
Write-in - N/A                                                                       12

Although DesJarlais was soundly beaten in Rutherford County, he did win in the following seven precincts: 1-1, 5-2, 8-2, 9-1, 10-1, 17-2, and 19-1.

As with Alexander, DesJarlais won with less than 50% of the vote; the "anti-Scott" vote was 55.1%. Compared to the 2012 primary, Scott fell nearly 32 points. The tightest vote came from Meigs County where Tracy won by 16 votes. 

This narrow win can give us enough leverage to nudge DesJarlais into making the right decisions, and we must do all we can to hold him accountable. I do believe DesJarlais has our interests at heart, despite some very bad votes of his in the past. And because of this, he would be more likely to listen to the people of the 4th District if we would only help guide him. His votes for things like government spying, corporate welfare, subsidies, and the unconstitutional detention of American citizens cannot be tolerated and they must not be repeated.