by Steven Hale
The City Paper has the details of an alternative Metro budget, proposed by the Metro Council's Budget and Finance Committee. The substitute budget would add $702,000 to the $1.8 billion plan proposed by Mayor Karl Dean, including a $200,000 subsidy for the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. That subsidy would only be available after the council takes action on the Fairgrounds Master Plan, which includes options for redevelopment on the property as well as continuation of the current uses.
In their initial budget hearing with the mayor, fairgrounds officials projected a deficit for next year of more than $700,000. At a presentation before the Council last week, they revised that projection, estimating a shortfall of around $400,000. If approved, the $200,000 subsidy would help the property retain three of its largest events: the Christmas Village, the Lawn and Garden Show, and a monthly gun show.
The substitute budget also includes $63,700 for an additional staff position at the Metro Historical Commission. The commission’s director Tim Walker told The City Paper last week that the department was at the “breaking point” and would not be able to take on more work — such as increasingly popular historic overlay districts — without funding for another staff member.
A list of additional items included in the substitute budget, according to a summary from council attorney Jon Cooper, after the jump:
• $150,000 for continuation of the Workforce Development Program. This program would be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development and appropriated to Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership, which is the agency that operated the workforce development program during the construction of the Music City Center.
• $99,800 for the Juvenile Court for a new probation officer position and the replacement of lost grant funds.
• $63,700 for the Planning Commission to add a planner position as a result of the increased permit/design review workload the department is experiencing.
• $50,000 for the Arts Commission for after school arts initiatives.
• $50,000 for increased travel and professional development opportunities.
• $25,000 for a new community garden grant program to be developed and administered by the Agricultural Extension Service subject to approval by the Council.