Greetings Lakeland Residents,
We are now in the month of April - a time of family and faith, and a time when the business of the City is ramping up for consistently warmer weather! This week, my update includes three main sections:
- A Look Back to Last Week
- A Look Ahead to This Week
- Behind the Scenes
Let's jump right in!
A Look Back to Last Week
Board of Commissioners Budget Workshop
City Staff presented the Board of Commissioners (BOC) with their first look at the initially proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 on Tuesday March 28th at 6pm. Mayor Roman, Vice-Mayor Wright, Commission Dial, and Commissioner McCarter were in attendance. As explained in the meeting, the annual budget workshop is the opportunity for the BOC to provide direct, informal feedback to City Staff on the direction of the budget so far for the upcoming fiscal year (FY). The City of Lakeland, as with most municipalities in the State of Tennessee, operates on an annual period of July 1st through June 30th of each year. Additionally, we operate the City based on "appropriations" - which simply means, if the funds are not budgeted, we cannot spend them. Because of this, our annual budget document is extremely important as it outlines the BOC's support, through their votes approving the budget, of the operational direction of the City. Our current FY 2023 Annual Budget can be viewed any time, along with any amendments, on the Financial Reporting page of the City's website.
It's important to note that this meeting was not an approval of the budget - it was a working session to review where our plans stand currently (the first reading of the Annual Budget is expected in May). Currently (and the full presentation can be viewed at lakelandtn.gov/agendas), the budget is in good shape:
- It has long been discussed that our local match portion of New Canada Road (the 20% of the cost that Lakeland has to bear), would require us to dip into fund balance during the construction phase of the project. However, not only is the City in a strong enough financial position to bear this cost burden through current revenues, but it also allows for an initial paving budget of nearly $1.8 million.
- The initial budget is "balanced" - it only uses fund balance in the General Fund (our primary operational fund) for "committed" and "assigned" purposes - this means, in simple terms, that certain revenue sources (such as parkland dedication fees), are only to be used for Parks projects. When the fees come in over the years, they accumulate in a pool of available funds. Then, in a year when they're spent on those committed purposes, they come out of fund balance for that reason (thereby not affecting the overall health of the City's finances). Assigned works the same way - the BOC can "set aside" excess fund balance for a particular reason, then spend it for that reason in a future year.
- One of the primary driver's of the City's financial health over the past couple of years has been increasing sales tax revenues. The initial budget projects sales tax revenues to increase 19% over FY 2023 (based on trend analysis and projections).
The next steps in the budget process will be the preparation of the complete Annual Budget document for first reading in May, and final passage thereafter. As always, we will update you each step of the way!
A Look Ahead to This Week
Lakeland School System Board of Education Meeting
The Lakeland School System Board of Education will meet tonight at City Hall at 5:45pm. The meeting's agenda can be found here, and the meeting can also be live streamed here. Speaking of budget season (see above), the School Board is expected to approve the school funds' FY2024 annual budgets and five-year capital spending plan at the meeting tonight.
Board of Commissioners Regular Meeting
April is the first month the BOC will meet twice monthly in regular session, and the meetings will begin at 6pm - not 5:30pm as in the past. This week, the BOC will meet in regular (voting) session Thursday April 6th at 6pm. The full agenda will be posted tomorrow, as usual, but here's a preview of the business to be discussed and acted upon:
- Commissioners, serving as liaisons to individual boards and commissions, will give updates on those activities from the March meetings.
- An Ordinance modifying the official depositories (bank accounts) for the City's funds will be presented for final reading (including the required public hearing).
- An Ordinance is up on first reading modifying the City's municipal code language, specific to the date of the inter-jurisdictional agreement with the City of Memphis for treatment of wastewater.
- Resolutions are being presented for approval -
- To approve a change order on the exterior improvements project at City Hall,
- To purchase a machinery and equipment for Public Works,
- To engage Enscor, LLC to perform this year's sewer improvements scope of work, and
- To engage Buchart Horn, Inc.'s professional services on the Clear Creek Interceptor project.
- Vice-Mayor Wright is presenting a resolution to place a moratorium on commercial development along Canada Road between Interstate 40 and Highway 64, pending completion of the Lakeland P.U.L.S.E. Comprehensive Plan.
- Commissioner McCarter is presenting a resolution to approve a City of Lakeland Neighborhood Watch Funds Reimbursement Policy, establishing the parameters around which City neighborhoods that establish a Neighborhood Watch program can access City funds for reimbursement of eligible costs.
- Additionally, Commissioner McCarter is sponsoring a Mayoral proclamation to establish April 14, 2023 as "Blue & Green Day Mid-South" in Lakeland - in support of organ and tissue donation. Representatives from the Mid-South Transplant Foundation will be on hand to make a presentation to the BOC.
Behind the Scenes...
First of all - I want to give a huge thank you to all those who over these weeks have emailed me questions and comments about these weekly updates! I am encouraged to know that these communications are reaching you, and that you find them meaningful. So... THANK YOU!
Additionally, some have asked specific questions about ongoing projects and current events in Lakeland, so I thought this new Behind the Scenes section would be the perfect place to start. Please keep your questions and suggestions coming to firstname.lastname@example.org!
New Canada Road
I know many of you recall the work done last summer to relocate the Texas Gas line across the existing Canada Road, and are anxiously awaiting further progress on the construction of New Canada Road. How do I know this? By your emails, of course!
The City is also awaiting further progress - in our case, from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Because this project is funded 80% by federal dollars passed through the State, we have to get TDOT's "Notice to Proceed" before we can bid out the construction of the new roadway. That said, we do expect to have this project bid by July of this year, and the construction timeframe is expected to be three (3) years.
In the meantime, please check out the great work our Engineering Department has done on the New Canada Road StoryMap!
We will soon be beginning the paving projects for this summer, which should be completed by the end of June. This year's project includes the Evergreen Hills subdivision, Salem Road, and reconstructing the entrance (off Seed Tick Road) to Heron's Ridge.
The Lake District
Several residents have emailed asking about the City's involvement in the current legal matters taking place surrounding The Lake District planned development. From a City Staff perspective, our stance is simple - we will continue to process applications and amendments for consideration by the Municipal Planning & Design Review Commission and/or the BOC based on properly, and timely, submitted application materials. Beyond that, we are not a party to nor involved in the current restructuring of the development. Neither the City nor the Lakeland Industrial Development Board (IDB) has contributed any tax dollars thus far to the development, as the development has not yet submitted any eligible infrastructure costs for reimbursement from their tax increment financing (TIF). Should the ownership of the property change, as reported by the IDB's attorney in their most recent meeting, the development agreement would be defaulted and have to be renegotiated. We continue to wish to see this exciting project come to fruition!
Lakeland On the Move...
One of the most exciting new projects in Lakeland is the new Lakeland Gateway TIF District! Anchored by the Ashmont development, but extending on both sides of Canada Road north of I-40, this project should enable the City to provide some exciting and needed amenities to our residents. Last week, I met with multiple property owners within the Lakeland Gateway area to discuss options for the acquisition and redevelopment of the entire Gateway - not just Ashmont - and I believe our BOC and residents should expect some exciting additional news related to these conversations in the coming weeks!
Over the past few weeks, several other exciting things are happening behind the scenes as well. I am continuing to work with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office to establish increased public safety presence in the City of Lakeland through needed additional operational space.
City Staff has also met with representatives of the YMCA to further discuss their interest in coming to Lakeland with a plan for the provision of needed recreation and childcare facilities first discussed at the most recent Parks and Recreation and Natural Resources Board (PRB) meeting. Working off of the PRB's feedback, the YMCA is working hard to partner hand-in-hand with the City of Lakeland to make these dreams a reality!
To Be Continued...
My hope is that these updates help serve to keep you aware of activities in the City of Lakeland, and provide assurance that your elected and appointed leaders are all working together for the betterment of the City! This week's update demonstrates the work being done, and continued, and that is always to be continued...
As always, email me any time at email@example.com with questions, concerns, or other matters you'd like highlighted in these weekly communications.
In Your Service,
Michael Walker, City Manager