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Ask The Mayor: Nashville Enforcing Business Restrictions, Water Sewer Infrastucture

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Unknown Speaker
All right. All right, fourth Wednesday of the month and I'm here with Nashville's municipal consultant DAX Norton. Hello, and welcome.

Unknown Speaker
Hello, I missed you last month. Sorry about that. It's good to be here.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, it's good to have you. You know, these last couple months, though we've been starting off the show just kind of looking back because it's been a year since the Coronavirus, took hold, just kind of open ended question to start with what have you taken away from the pandemic like this for town, such as Nashville,

Unknown Speaker
a great leadership and had to be reactionary, which a lot of times not good, but was for the county for the town. I think we've talked to some business owners whose sales were better to the pandemic than they were prior. I think what you saw was people staying close by and coming to the place that they felt was safe. That was that was Nashville and Brown County, if you will, about just good leadership, good, good, you know, figuring out fly. And do everyone doing their best to be dad, everybody's best interests at heart. From a safety perspective, to an economics perspective. It's been tough. We learned. We can do zoom meetings, we we learn we most of us probably don't like them. Because we like to be close to each other. So yeah, it was a and we learned that the normal can go away pretty quickly, but we rely on to, to feed us and keep the lights on, can go away in a pretty quick flash. And we've got to be prepared for that to happen again, and for revenues to be in place to be able to take care of services and and be able to support each other and all the businesses that we have. So that's what I would take away from it just were very good leadership.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. And there's still a long way to go. Brown County's in the yellow advisory level. Now there's no state maske mandate, but I believe there's still some restrictions there in Brown County, right.

Unknown Speaker
If business requires mass, but town will back that business up. You can still ask people leave your business don't have a mask on if they don't, they're trespassing. That's obviously a criminal offense. And so yes, town still is supporting those business owners that want to take a stand and continue to be safe if their employees safe and require mass.

Unknown Speaker
And I believe is the visitor center still closed? It's been closed since December that that funding comes from an innkeepers tax you told us about this is a while ago. And I know that obviously, tourist is the your meat potatoes there in Nashville. So what will it take to open up the visitor center?

Unknown Speaker
I haven't really had any conversations with rain and visitors group for a while. I know that they talk about leadership she had. I mean, she really had to figure it out on the fly and she did a great job. encourage people to still come to town. Socially distance be safe, but still come in and joy. You know what, what she markets as to the outside world and they're great job with it. I know that some of that stimulus money, some of the newest package, specifically states tourism as as an eligible spinning, so I don't know what the county's discussing there. But it's probably welcome news.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, in Nashville, I believe getting $230,000 from the American rescue plan act, Brown County proposed to get almost 3 million. Has there been any talks with you? Or have you been in any discussions on how that gets implemented or divvied up especially when you have county and town with this extra stimulus money because you don't want things to overlap and you know, things like that.

Unknown Speaker
First off the town pass their ordinance. So state required an ordinance be passed to establish a fund to place those monies into the fund. monies obviously haven't come to the municipalities yet. And the actual official dollar figures haven't been released by Treasury. So all of us are kind of waiting to see what the Treasury does, especially if there are additional and much more specific guidelines on the use of the spend. I think that one thing it's highlighted for the time Purpose is water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. That's the thing the town really is looking towards town has some significant projects underway to improve the wastewater and water system. And so that's probably what the council is going to be focusing on the county. On the other hand, I haven't heard, like I said, I think it's welcome news that the county can use that

Unknown Speaker
for

Unknown Speaker
tourism if they need to. We think of the Music Center. nobodies haven't heard anything what to do. So we're just kind of waiting. All of us are starting to develop spending plans getting prepared, what we need to do is leverage that money for additional federal dollars, my opinion or additional state dollar. So if the state says if you use this money here, we'll give you an extra we'll give you we'll match you dollar for dollar. That's that's what the council's getting prepared for right now is to use that money as leverage a 20% match for 80%. Money. Is is how we believe that is the intention from the federal government. We're just waiting for the final specific guideline. national treasure.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, you and every other Mayor official we've talked to on this show has said basically the same thing, Mayor Bennett in Terre Haute thinks that the first deposit comes as soon as May. But there's been no there's been no guideline. So everyone's waiting to see how they can use that that you did mention earlier about some new was at a our PR money.

Unknown Speaker
That's what we're talking about. Now the American rescue plan act we've that's the same, you know, we all have to live. We in city we in town and economic development world have to live in alphabets to acronym RPA is what's been called.

Unknown Speaker
You know, I covered a Brown County This is a county commissioner meeting about a property tax increase if it funds buildings, grounds it there in the county, does that tie in to the town's goals and planning at all? And is the town looking at any type of tax increase?

Unknown Speaker
No, I don't think so at this point. Obviously, our levy will work controlled levies connote it controlled by the state taxes. I think they went down a bit last year, if I remember correctly, or they stayed the same. I don't see that changing this year. I don't think we've seen the hit to the revenues as much as was anticipated. A good good example is food and beverage tax revenue really didn't decline. You would have thought that it would have but it really didn't. So I you know, obviously we're paying close attention. It's budget time, right? Now it's time to start thinking about those budgets. For right now it looks like that town will still be able to provide services to the residents. Without any significant increases in revenue. Obviously, you always want to have to, you always want to do things. And I'll continue to help provide those services, water sewer infrastructure. Funding is as a great example, is we have about a $6 million project in front of us. We're working very hard with federal and state partners is much of that in grants as we can so that rates will have to increase substantially to get that done, and to have a very good delivery of water to the home and wastewater away from the home.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, and I know we've been

Unknown Speaker
a good example of, you know, figuring and creative ways to to get that done.

Unknown Speaker
And I know we've been covering a septic tank ordinance. Again, I think that's a county. But is that mainly for outside town limits? Or is that kind of goes along with what you're talking about water and sewer,

Unknown Speaker
because it can affect areas in town down. There are areas that are still on septic. And again, the town goes outside of its limit to provide sanitary sewer services. So yes, that that's a you know, the sanitary sewer master plan mentions that taking people off septic and getting them on to a, you know, a sanitary sewer system. And so that's something that we'll be discussing here. The Union, the utility service board is up and running. They're very good group. They're going to be on their fifth meeting now the year they're getting ready to meet to go over the sanitary sewer master plan, make any changes that they think may need to be made. I've had some residents reach out and suggest changes it will Well, you know, that are very reasonable that need to be done. But yes, that's a big part of that ordinance. were to pass. Set before start to go away. And all those plans for sanitary sewer, either expansion or you know, doing things that can make it easy to hook on, maybe reduce the cost. So what we've been talking about

Unknown Speaker
is most of the water sewer you talk about expansion or replacing What's there?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, the project that I talked about now is a rehabilitation project of what's been there since the 60s. And the big thing is infiltration of rainwater and green into the sanitary sewer system, but you don't want. And so also some rehabilitation of the facilities out of the treatment plant, such as sludge, how you store it, how you remove it, where it goes. There's some chemical tank buildings that are in the flood flood plain that need to be taken out, moved some upgrades to some of the lift stations. So yes, it's it's primarily upgrades to existing infrastructure, although there is a project to include new infrastructure, which would serve the state park in areas along Highway 46. For that new piece of infrastructure and a new lift station.

Unknown Speaker
You know, we were talking with lamingtons, raising water wake up water rates, because they were on a path to replace water pipes every 200 years, which is not sustainable. So they want to get it to a 100 year replacement schedule. But it just kind of kind of mind boggling to think about what towns and cities are going through. And just basic water and sewer replacement and something that's on the top of your mind there. It sounds like more we talk about this there in Nashville.

Unknown Speaker
The next big the next big crisis, Joe is water and sewer delivery by municipalities to the residents think I heard 17 billion with a B, maybe it was million. I can't remember Seth, I'm pretty sure it was billion that couldn't be wrong. And maybe 17 million in needed repairs, just repairs to water and wastewater systems across the state. I do think that ACC report is with a B, I can't my head can't get around that if it is. But there is a report out there that's done an analysis of all the repairs that need to be done just to safely deliver those those products. And in that process with the current infrastructure that we have great example is a lot of national system is from pipes from the federal government that were given to the town in the 40s. After the reduction of Camp atterbury, the federal government dug those water pipes out of the ground and gave it away a surplus to surrounding communities to Nationals delivering water with a lot of those pipes, right.

Unknown Speaker
So and then I believe, did I read that there's also a loss of water to in the system that's accounting for that, you know, the income is not, doesn't replace that loss of water in the system? And so the question is, is how much do you spend on fixing that? And does that get your money back

Unknown Speaker
56% water loss is huge. In 2019. That has to be fixed. The average i think is between 15 and 20. So that that must be fixed. And that's all you know, leaks in the system. All that vows has nothing to do with staff. It's everything to do with aging infrastructure that we haven't been able to keep up with, because we haven't done what's necessary to raise the revenue necessary. It becomes a political thing. And people don't want the raise raised. But now we can't afford to, you know, to keep the infrastructure viable enough to provide that service safely and efficiently. And so that's why I say the next crisis not just a national crisis, or Brown County crisis was statewide municipal delivery crisis. So that's top of mind for the town

Unknown Speaker
right now. Yeah. And something we'll have to dig deeper into as we move along. And, you know, we started talking a lot about this infrastructure and comprehensive planning before the pandemic hit, you know, more than a year ago. So what what are some of the other things that you're hoping to turn your attention to?

Unknown Speaker
Just exactly what you said got brands and title Planning, not necessarily from a zoning perspective, but just for growth perspective. Now, what's what's, what's 2050 look like? What's 2016 look like? Probably 2050 is a better number or 2045 for the town, Nashville, and his partner in Broward County, but specifically for Nashville, what's it look like? who is visiting? Where are they sure, the shopping? What's the infill strategy? You know, from a growth perspective is the footprint is kind of, you're kind of landlocked a little bit. So how do you grow within your own footprint? What does it look like? What's the brand? So that kind of that type of comprehensive type of strategic direction roadmapping, if you will, is really top of mind. And then that turns into some pretty serious economic developments, discussions of what's the next economic driver? Besides tourism? What's, what's that next economic driver for Nashville? And you don't get there without planning to be there. And so that's why it's critical and vital.

Unknown Speaker
And is it is it is the current comprehensive as that plan about what 20 years old.

Unknown Speaker
So the county has a comprehensive plan, because they provide planning services for zoning activities in state statute the to have a comp plan to be able to have zoning law and to enforce zoning law. That plan is about 14 pages, and two of them are dedicated in Nashville. So we, most comp plans are in the 100 to 150 page range. But that's that's I think that's a different product than what we're we're looking at, you know, the strategic direction roadmap would possibly include working with the county to update their comprehensive plan to include a little more specifics for Nashville. But also, it's just a myriad of things with bicycle, pedestrian planning and thoroughfare planning rules and historic preservation is incredibly important. You know, it really got to, there's been an ordinance in front of the council quite quite, quite often. We need to be able to preserve the historical integrity of the buildings that are contributing. So those are all the things we're discussing. comes down there.

Unknown Speaker
That was all I had. Did you have any other announcements or things we should know about?

Unknown Speaker
So beautiful and spring and Nashville and Broward County's great place to go? So doors are open and come visit. All right, safely and safely, of course. Yeah, yeah. Please come. Come see us.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, we're not out of the woods yet. But we're getting No,

Unknown Speaker
no. Be safe. get vaccinated.

Unknown Speaker
Yes, yes. Yes. Have you been vaccinated?

Unknown Speaker
I have been Johnson Johnson. One,

Unknown Speaker
one. Got the one shot.

Unknown Speaker
All done.

Unknown Speaker
All right.

Unknown Speaker
Well, I just want to remind anyone listening watching you can submit your questions to Dax or anyone on Ask the mayor. It's news at Indiana public media.org. Again, thank you very much and hope to see you in May DAX.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you. Alright, bye bye.
Nashville Municipal Consultant Dax Norton

Nashville's Municipal Consultant Dax Norton on Tuesday's Zoom Interview (Zoom)

The town is enforcing businesses that choose to continue mask mandates, water and sewer infrastructure tops the list of town needs.

On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Nashville's Municipal Consultant Dax Norton addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: These last couple months, we've been starting off the show looking back because it's been a year since the coronavirus took hold. What have you taken away from the pandemic for a town such as Nashville?

Norton: We learned that the normal can go away pretty quickly, but what we rely on to feed us and keep the lights on, can go away in a pretty quick flash. And we've got to be prepared for that to happen again, and for revenues to be in place to be able to take care of services and be able to support each other and all the businesses that we have. So that's what I would take away from it just were very good leadership.

Hren: Brown County's in the yellow advisory level. Now there's no state mask mandate, but I believe there's still some restrictions there in Brown County?

Norton: If a business requires masks, the town will back that business up. You can still ask people to leave your business if they don't have a mask on. If they don't, they're trespassing. That's obviously a criminal offense. And so yes, town still is supporting those business owners that want to take a stand and continue to be safe and their employees safe and require masks.

READ MORE: Bloomington Mayor Questions Local Revenue Increase After $22 Million In Federal Relief

Hren: I believe Nashville is getting $230,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act, Brown County proposed to get almost $3 million. Has there been any meetings on spending it?

Norton: First off the town passed their ordinance. The state required an ordinance be passed to establish a fund to place those monies into the fund. Monies obviously haven't come to the municipalities yet. And the actual official dollar figures haven't been released by Treasury. So all of us are kind of waiting to see what the Treasury does, especially if there are additional and much more specific guidelines on the use of the spend.

I think that one thing highlighted for the time is water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. That's the thing the town really is looking towards. The town has some significant projects underway to improve the wastewater and water system. And so that's probably what the council is going to be focusing on the county. On the other hand, I haven't heard, but I think it's welcome news that the county can use that for tourism if they need to. We think of the Music Center. Nobody has heard anything what to do. So we're just kind of waiting. All of us are starting to develop spending plans getting prepared, what we need to do is leverage that money for additional federal dollars, my opinion or additional state dollar.

Hren: I covered a Brown County commissioner meeting about a property tax increase that funds buildings, county grounds and IT, does that tie in to the town's goals and planning at all? And is the town looking at any type of tax increase?

Norton: No, I don't think so at this point. Obviously, our levies are controlled by the state. I think they went down a bit last year, if I remember correctly, or they stayed the same. I don't see that changing this year. I don't think we've seen the hit to the revenues as much as was anticipated. A good example is food and beverage tax revenue really didn't decline. You would have thought that it would have but it really didn't. So I you know, obviously we're paying close attention. It's budget time, right? Now it's time to start thinking about those budgets. For right now it looks like that town will still be able to provide services to the residents. Without any significant increases in revenue.

We have about a $6 million project in front of us. We're working very hard with federal and state partners and much of that in grants as we can so that rates will have to increase substantially to get that done, and to have a very good delivery of water to the home and wastewater away from the home.

The next big crisis, Joe, is water and sewer delivery by municipalities to the residents. Think I heard $17 billion with a B, maybe it was million. I can't remember. Just repairs to water and wastewater systems across the state. And in that process with the current infrastructure that we have a great example is from pipes from the federal government that were given to the town in the 40s. After the reduction of Camp Atterbury, the federal government dug those water pipes out of the ground and gave it away a surplus to surrounding communities to Nashville delivering water with a lot of those pipes.

Hren: Did I read that there's also a loss of water in the system that's accounting for that so the income is not replacing that loss of water in the system? And so how much do you spend on fixing that? And does that get your money back?

Norton: 56% water loss is huge in 2019. That has to be fixed. The average I think is between 15 and 20 percent. And that's all leaks in the system. All that has nothing to do with staff. It's everything to do with aging infrastructure that we haven't been able to keep up with, because we haven't done what's necessary to raise the revenue necessary. It becomes a political thing. And people don't want the rates raised. But now we can't afford to keep the infrastructure viable enough to provide that service safely and efficiently.

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