NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Today, on the 100th day of his tenure as Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, Mayor John Cooper released a report detailing significant progress made toward his administration’s goal of creating a city that works for everyone.
The First 100 Day Report contains several Cooper administration agenda priorities that have already been fulfilled, including addressing the city’s urgent budget gap to prevent state supervision of Metro’s finances, increased investments in neighborhood infrastructure, and advancements in creating a people-first transportation plan. Later this week, the Mayor’s Office will publish a comprehensive Commitment Tracker that enables Nashville residents to track the progress of other current and upcoming projects.
“Together, we have made significant progress on many priorities in the past 100 days,” said Mayor Cooper. “The task of overcoming our financial hurdles has been challenging, and there is still work to be done. But I’m proud to say that my administration has kept its focus on my earlier promises. From body-worn cameras to bus route scheduling, we will continue to work hard to meet the goal of making Nashville a vibrant, prosperous city for everyone.”
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY & OUR LOCAL ECONOMY
Balancing the budget and preventing state supervision
In response to a presentation made by the state comptroller, who expressed serious concerns with the state of Metro’s $42 million budget shortfall, the Mayor’s Office recently submitted a balanced budget as part of a corrective action plan that was approved by the state comptroller’s office. The balanced budget required the expeditious and proactive securing of additional recurring revenue by the Cooper administration. While more work is required to bring Metro Government’s fiscal house in order, substantial progress has been made in addressing the city’s financial challenges.
Securing additional revenue from tourism and downtown development
In October 2019, Mayor Cooper secured a $12.1 million PILOT from the Convention Center Authority and an additional $3.6 million payment from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Center for FY2019-20. “This is a great moment for our city,” Cooper said of the PILOT agreement. “During the campaign, I talked about the need for tourist dollars to serve residents…we are receiving a welcome dividend on our biggest investment in downtown.”
Enacting Capital Spending Plan reform
Mayor John Cooper announced early in his tenure that his administration was partnering with Metro Council Budget and Finance Chair Bob Mendes to write legislation that reforms future Capital Spending Plans. In the interest of improved clarity and government transparency, the legislation would require Metro Council and the Mayor’s Office to fully itemize and appropriate funds for public projects before construction begins.
INVESTING IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
Investing in stormwater infrastructure
In October 2019, Mayor Cooper re-directed $17.5 million from a stalled SoBro-Gulch pedestrian bridge project. Funds were immediately diverted to shovel-ready infrastructure projects, including $13.63 million for 52 separate culvert and bridge projects in 24 council districts throughout Davidson County.
Refocusing the MDHA’s mission toward housing
Mayor Cooper appointed Paulette Coleman, founding chair of Nashville Organized for Action and Hope’s affordable housing task force, to the MDHA Board of Commissioners. Her appointment, along with former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, a passionate advocate for affordable housing, represents a determined effort to reshape the board and focus its efforts on housing.
Commissioning an Immigration Task Force
Inclusion is a cornerstone of strong and welcoming neighborhoods. Within the Mayor’s first few weeks in office, he rescinded Mayor Briley’s Executive Order No. 11 and convened a task force of leaders from across the community and Metro Government to ensure his administration is aware of requests made by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and knows how to respond appropriately. The task force delivered its final report in December 2019, which the Mayor’s Office is carefully reviewing as it considers future policy decisions around federal immigration enforcement actions in Nashville and Davidson County.
Creating safer residential streets
Addressing speeding in residential neighborhoods is one of the top safety issues that Metro police is asked to address by Nashvillians. Mayor John Cooper announced in October the rollout of The Neighborhood Speed Limit Reduction Initiative, which will reduce the posted speed limit in neighborhood streets currently signed at 30 MPH to 25 MPH. Metro Public Works will work to implement the change over a one-year period, upon completion of a comprehensive signage inventory.
Raising and studying MNPS teacher pay
Our schools and educators are cornerstones of our community. Mayor Cooper’s office worked hard to deliver on a promised 3 percent COLA to MNPS educators and support staff for January 2020. In partnership with the Nashville Public Education Foundation and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), the Mayor’s Office has commissioned an expert compensation study of teacher compensation in Nashville-Davidson County. “I am committed to finding mechanisms to not simply provide one-time raises for teachers but also finding a longer-term, sustainable vision for teacher salaries that provide the opportunity for more growth over time,” said Mayor Cooper. “This study will help us understand how we can better attract and retain teachers through the creation and implementation of a strategic compensation plan.”
A TRANSPORTATION PLAN THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE
Creating a people-first transportation plan
In December 2019, Mayor Cooper announced a transportation plan timeline that will conclude with the announcement of a plan by the end of September 2020. The Mayor’s transportation plan will first address the everyday transportation and transit concerns impacting Nashvillians, including problem intersections, traffic congestion, and bus route issues.
Engaging residents during transportation planning
The Cooper administration has created a series of public listening sessions scheduled throughout Nashville and Davidson County to gather community input on Metro’s transportation planning priorities. The Mayor’s Office will host 11 public listening sessions in January and February of 2020. The listening sessions will provide opportunities to residents throughout Davidson County to voice their ideas, priorities, and concerns regarding transit and transportation in Nashville.
Calming traffic in pedestrian-heavy areas
In October 2019, Mayor Cooper re-directed $17.5 million from a stalled SoBro-Gulch pedestrian bridge project. $1.5 million in funds were immediately directed to traffic calming projects conducted by Metro Public Works to help identify, prioritize, and mitigate speeding and the undesirable effects of traffic in residential neighborhoods.
RESTORING TRUST IN METRO GOVERNMENT
Meeting monthly with Nashville residents
In keeping with his campaign promise to pursue a transparent administration, Mayor Cooper has hosted monthly meetings through his office’s “Coffee with Cooper” and “Mayor’s Night Out” community event series, held in cafes and public schools throughout Davidson County. At each event, Nashville residents are invited to come and voice their questions and concerns directly with the Mayor and other Metro department officials.
Creating a Public Integrity Task Force
Having committed to an accountable and transparent government, Mayor Cooper created a Public Integrity Task Force to review current practices related to ethics and government transparency. The Public Integrity Task Force has been given the responsibility of reviewing current Metro practices relating to ethics, conflicts of interest, contracting and procurement practices, political contributions, and permitted political activities by Metro employees, vendors, contractors, and members of boards and commissions.
The group will also review Metro Government’s current open meeting and public records policies. Mayor Cooper has further directed the task force to examine the need for an independent Inspector General to work with Metro as well as the Office of Internal Audit in identifying and preventing potential fraud and waste in Metro government.
Facilitating an MOU between the Community Oversight Board and MNPD
In January 2020, the Mayor’s Office released a final draft of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the COB and Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD), facilitated by the Mayor’s Office. The eight-page document describes how the COB and MNPD will cooperate in fulfilling the COB’s oversight function.
“I am grateful to both Dr. Hildreth and Deputy Chief Hagar for their dedication to this important MOU, and I want to convey the full support of my administration to both the letter and spirit of this agreement moving forward,” said Mayor Cooper. “Cities fail when they don’t have support from the whole community. By reaching this final draft MOU, we’ve demonstrated what can be achieved when we come together to consider the priorities of all Nashvillians – from vulnerable citizens and passionate advocates for change to those who diligently and honorably serve as our public safety professionals. This MOU represents another important milestone in our city’s enduring pursuit for a higher standard of accountability in government.”
Deploying and testing body-worn cameras
Mayor Cooper’s administration developed a roadmap to begin deploying body-worn cameras (BWCs) by Metro Nashville police officers by March 2020. The announcement of the plan followed months of intense discussions between the Mayor’s Office, the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD), the District Attorney’s Office, and Metro Information Technology Services (ITS), as well as the Public Defender’s Office, other criminal justice agencies, and community stakeholders.
Conducting performance audits of Metro Government agencies
Mayor Cooper has tasked Kristin Wilson, Chief of Operations and Performance, with the job of conducting performance audits of Metro departments and agencies. The Mayor’s Office has also hired Diego Eguiarte as Director of Performance Management to help identify how Nashvillians’ tax dollars are being spent and to identify areas of performance improvement within Metro Government.
CREATING A MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR NASHVILLE
Making a significant commitment to address climate change
Mayor Cooper announced that his administration signed the Global Covenant of Mayors as a precursor to participating in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a coalition of 94 leading cities around the world focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Nashville’s participation in the Global Covenant of Mayors requires ambitious local climate and energy action and a transition to a low-emission and resilient urban environment to benefit public and environmental health and to lay the foundation for a prosperous economy.
Mayor Cooper’s administration will also work toward reducing Nashville’s community-scale emissions 30 percent by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050. To lead by example, CO2-reduction targets for Metro Government will be 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.
Increasing Metro Government’s renewable energy portfolio
Mayor Cooper’s proposed the implementation of a full solar panel array atop the Historic Metropolitan Courthouse. Initial steps will include conducting a solar feasibility assessment to determine the ideal location and the total number of solar panels that can be installed. It is estimated that the courthouse rooftop could accommodate over 200 individual solar panels capable of generating 72 kilowatts of renewable carbon-free energy.
Once installed, the Historic Metropolitan Courthouse will join other Metro locations where solar power arrays are being installed, including the Sheriff’s Office Downtown Campus, the Metro Police Department Headquarters and Family Safety Center, and the Bellevue Community Center. At the Music City Center, an 845-panel solar array currently produces approximately 271,000 kilowatt-hours per year − enough electricity to power the building’s lighting and electric vehicle charging stations.
Improving Metro Government’s energy efficiency performance
Mayor Cooper has commissioned the Department of General Services with establishing an “Energy Savings Program” to support energy efficiency efforts in Metro’s general government facilities with a goal of substantial reductions in energy consumption and costs. To implement reductions, the Department of General Services will manage an “Energy Savings Revolving Fund” deploying ongoing measurement and tracking of energy savings projects for most Metro department facilities.
Pursuing green buildings to promote efficiency and sustainability
In December 2019, Mayor Cooper announced the pursuit of green building certification by two Metro-owned facilities. With the assistance of the Department of General Services, the Sheriff’s Office Downtown Campus was awarded LEED Silver certification. And the Metro Police Department Headquarters and Family Safety Center is successfully tracking toward LEED Gold certification.
Establishing a sustainability advisory board
Mayor Cooper established a sustainability advisory board that will review actual sustainability initiatives advanced by the Mayor’s Office and by the Metro Council. Previous administrations have convened environmental groups whose members ably gathered, discussed, and prepared reports filled with ambitious proposals and recommendations. But today, Metro’s problem is not a lack of proposals − it is the implementation of those proposals into actual practice. That is why the advisory board will be charged – to review active proposals as they are being implemented through legislation and policy changes.
Saving and strengthening Nashville’s tree canopy
Nashville’s tree canopy coverage shrank from 28 percent in 2008 to just 24 percent in 2016, well below the coverage of many of our peer cities. Austin, Texas, has an urban tree canopy coverage of 30.8 percent, and Charlotte, North Carolina, is at 47 percent. Mayor Cooper introduced legislation with Metro Council Member Angie Henderson to further strengthen tree protections under the Metro Code. Specifically, the legislation will propose the elimination of an exemption to tree density requirements that unintentionally reduces tree volume by nearly 70 percent based solely upon lot dimensions. (See, Metropolitan Code of Laws, sec. 17.24.100.B.2).