Follow-up: Capital Spending Plan

Earlier today, I posted about my plan to try to amend the Capital Spending Plan to remove $40 million related to the Sheriff’s Office.

This afternoon, I was told that the Council hasn’t amended a Capital Spending Plan for at least 10 years. If that’s true, wow!

For background, there are two different documents – the Capital Improvements Budget (CIB) and the Capital Spending Plan (CSP).  The CIB is a huge document that has 6 years of capital projects listed in it. The document is messy. For example, a new Sheriff’s Department headquarters is listed twice in the CIB. (Look at Item 17GS0018 on page III-27 for $20,000,000, and Item 17SO0001 on page III-153 for $21,464,700.) Our new Mayor has committed to have the Planning Department clean up the CIB and its presentation. But that is expected to take a few years.

If a project is listed in the CIB, it is considered to be eligible for capital spending. But being listed in the CIB does NOT mean that any funds are actually appropriated for the project. In order for a project to actually be funded, it has to appear in the CSP and the Council has to approve Metro incurring the debt to pay for the CSP. This might make you wonder, “Well, who cares if a project is in the CIB or not??” Here’s why – if a project is in the CIB, it only takes 21 votes to approve funding for the project. If a project is not in the CIB, it takes 27 votes to approve funding for the project. So, it does matter if a project is in the CIB.

Apparently, for years and years, the Council has removed or added projects to the CIB.  Last year, for example, the flood wall and the police HQ were removed from the CIB.  I’m told that there is no recent history of removing projects from the CSP. I’m not sure this makes sense to me.

I would think that there are some projects where the Council should look at the CIB, and others where we should look at the CSP. With the flood wall last year, I was busy campaigning, but I never understood the project. With that one, it made sense that it was removed from the CIB and was therefore not eligible to be funded at all. But with the Sheriff’s headquarters, I am ok with the project being in the CIB – consolidating the Sheriff’s administrative functions somewhere makes sense to me. I just don’t want money to be appropriated for the project at this time – that’s why I think it should be removed from the CSP (even if the project remains in the CIB and eligible for funding at some point).

I’ll keep trying to share my observations about the Metro budget process as it unfolds.

Bob Mendes

Bob Mendes represents all of Nashville as a Council-At-Large member of Nashville’s Metro Council. He is Chair of the Council’s Charter Revision Committee, a member of the Metropolitan Audit Committee, and a member of the Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, Rules & Confirmations Committee, and Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee. Bob also practices business law at Waypoint Law PLLC. Bob’s complete bio is here. You can follow Bob @mendesbob.