Greetings Lakeland Residents,
It is budget season at City Hall, as your City leadership works together to ensure that we have a solid footing on which to begin the new fiscal year in July (which will be here before we know it). Tomorrow night is the first look at the budget with our Board of Commissioners (BOC), where my staff and I will present our initial projections and plans and obtain the BOC's feedback and direction so that we can continue in the right direction. With this being the fifth week of the month, there are no regularly-scheduled commission or committee meetings - just the annual budget workshop meeting of the BOC. As always, here is a summary of last week's meetings before we jump into a look at the week ahead. As always, past meetings can be viewed at lakelandtn.gov/agendas.
A Look Back to Last Week
Parks and Recreation & Natural Resources Board Meeting
The Parks and Recreation & Natural Resources Board (PRB) met on Tuesday the 21st at 5:30pm at City Hall. Here is a quick recap of the meeting:
- Representatives of the YMCA were on hand for the meeting and spoke to the PRB about the potential for a new center in Lakeland. They asked for the PRB's feedback and desired features to include as needs of the community for incorporation into a new facility.
- City Staff reported on the continued progress on Phase II of the Athletic Complex on Memphis-Arlington Road. It is expected that the design will be approximately 50% complete by the end of June, with the remaining design completed in fiscal year 2024. City Staff has also begun the work of getting power services to the Athletic Complex, which will hopefully enable us to light the existing fields sometime this summer.
- The PRB also had a goal-setting session for the basketball program. The primary desire of the PRB was to ensure the program has sufficient space for practices and games. The topic of additional competitive teams was discussed, to enable Lakeland youth to continue to progress in their development. The topic of gender-specific division creation was also discussed.
Industrial Development Board Meeting
The Industrial Development Board of the City of Lakeland (IDB) met on Thursday the 23rd at 5:30pm at City Hall. Beyond the routine approval of past meeting minutes, there were two items discussed and/or acted upon in the meeting:
- The IDB passed a resolution (vote of 6-0) approving draw requests on Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds by Lakeland Commons, LP. As discussed in the meeting, these approvals do not represent any current expenditure of funds by the IDB or disbursements of loan funding, but approval of expenses that could later be reimbursed to the developer from future TIF funds. Eligible expenses are reviewed by an outside firm, and meet the criteria for infrastructure costs contained in the development's economic impact plan and development agreements.
- The second item discussed in the IDB meeting was the impact to the IDB (and the City of Lakeland) resulting from any pending foreclosure sales on The Lake District. (If you have been following this story, most of you know by now that the developer filed for Chapter 11 Reorganization on Friday, March 24th, the day after this meeting.) The IDB's attorney Al Bright provided an update on the potential impact to the existing Lake District TIF should the property be sold. Essentially, if there is a new owner, or a foreclosure sale, the existing development agreement with The Lake District would be defaulted, and a new agreement would have to be developed. I also reminded the IDB that thus far, the IDB has not approved any eligible infrastructure costs on The Lake District, nor committed any specific funding through loans to the development.
A Look Ahead to This Week
Board of Commissioners Budget Workshop
The BOC will meet tomorrow night, Tuesday the 28th at 6pm, for the annual budget workshop. This session will be live streamed on lakelandtn.gov/agendas as all BOC meetings are. No specific action will be taken at this meeting - it is simply the opportunity for the Board members to provide feedback to me and my staff regarding the direction of the budget, so that all of City leadership can be aligned on our goals and priorities going forward. While many may view budgeting as "pretty dry stuff," this is where you truly get to see the City's priorities at work - in what we fund.
While the budget could still drastically change between now and final approval, this first look includes a projected continued healthy bump in sales tax revenues, no use of unassigned fund balance in the General Fund, and marginal increases in operating costs when considering the extreme rises in operating costs in a post-COVID world. At the same time, the initial budget drafted hits on several of the BOC's priorities, including funding for the land development regulations update and completion of the comprehensive plan, a robust paving budget, and improvements to parks facilities by lighting the Athletic Complex fields, among others.
Again - this meeting is not to approve the budget! It is simply to review a draft of it, between the Board and City Staff, and discuss potential changes in direction or to affirm Staff's direction thus far.
To Be Continued...
Next week begins the new month, and a new meeting cycle for the Board of Commissioners. The meeting on April 6th would have been a work session in the past, and is now a regular voting meeting. Our hope is that the revised schedule, which can be viewed in our calendar, enables us to work faster, smarter, and more efficiently going forward as we continue in service to our great City.
As always, remember to check lakelandtn.gov/agendas for meeting times, videos of past meetings, and materials for upcoming meetings, as available. Also, stay plugged in to the City through our website, our social media, and our Lakeland Connect app. And reach out to me any time at email@example.com.
In Your Service,
Michael Walker, City Manager