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Business Roundtable 2-17
Haley's accomplishments set city up for success
When hes not pounding the pavement on foot, Mayor Haley covers terrain on a bike.

Jimmy Haley is in the final year of his four-year term as Mayor of McMinnville. The achievements of 2015 are noteworthy and germane to more success in 2016 and beyond. The mayor is considering a second term with no decision made as yet. Highlights for 2015 include:

1. No city tax increase during 2015. That’s always an achievement.
2. Fund balance of $5 million. That is above the desired minimum balance of $4 million and reflects desired fiscal management and favorable tax collections.
3. Very successful first year with renovated Park Theatre, which opened in May.
4. Significant amount of city paving and sidewalks were done in 2015.
5. Received governor’s award for being first city with LED lighting.
6. Awarded $1 million T-Modal grant for new sidewalk on Sparta Street which will start in 2016.
7. Received a HUD grant for $500,000 for low-income housing improvements. Warren County received the same grant. Both will use UCDD (Upper Cumberland Development District) to organize and execute the improvements during 2016. UCDD is reviewing needs at this time.
8. Hired Anthony Pelham as director at City Water Department, Nolan Ming as director of codes, and Kevin Roberts as Park Theatre coordinator. All are viewed as positive additions to city staff.
9. Litewire began operations during 2015 as a highly viable electronic data center. City supported IDB also recruited DN Plastics which began operations in 2015.
10. Bojangles began operations in late 2015 and Zaxby’s is coming. Bluegrass Underground had a stellar 2015 with offering concerts almost monthly. McMinnville is now a Retire TN community.
11. The mayor views the current Board of Aldermen as a smooth and effective organization. This is a positive.
There were two disappointments during 2015. First is the state decision to close the local Driver Testing Center. The mayor is optimistic that center could be saved using the basement level of City Hall, but that is far from certain at this time. Second is a lost Community Development Block Grant that was applied for city water plant improvements. The grant has already been reapplied for in 2016. 
Looking to 2016, there is a long list of projects and continuing efforts to keep the city staff and Board of Aldermen busy.  The following is a list that will guide efforts in the new year.
1. Try to gain TN approval to retain state Driver Testing Center at new location.
2. Petition for $400,000 Community Block Development Grant for city water plant improvements.
3. Maintain conservative fiscal fund balance, a “rainy day” fund.
4. Continue with more city paving and sidewalk work.
5. Consider and approve major reconstruction at Civic Center that could include expansion of wellness center, providing handicapped bathrooms, adding/ improving insulation, applying for an energy grant for building improvements, consider an indoor pool, etc.  Total project could approach $3 million.
6. Upgrade technology in city offices with new computers, software, etc.
7. Finish Park Theatre second phase of restoration – permanent seats in balcony. Expand facility use for concerts and multi-use.
8. Expand current greenway from Frank G. Clement Bridge to Rocket Park.
9. Consider hire of a grant writer to pursue more state and federal grants for city.
10. The City Finance Committee has given preliminary approval to $25,000 in the next fiscal budget to help secure an ARC grant to support bringing advanced robotics training to our area.
11. The mayor would like to start a recycling program for the city as part of an overall green initiative.
12. WCHS is planning emphasis next academic year of co-ops, internships, and work-based initiatives such as job shadowing.

More topics were discussed with the mayor that are longer term in nature – the proverbial wish list. The city needs to consider a new fire hall for downtown and perhaps a new police station. A downtown hotel is desired and under consideration by two different groups.
Using the old Powermatic property on Morrison Street for industrial use is desirable. Utilizing the Blue Building in a productive manner is desirable – several options were proposed with a student thesis study. More restaurants would be desired. The mayor advocates using the annual tax collection recovery from the county to the city to be used for capital projects. That way, there is a permanent benefit viable to all.
Speaking on behalf of BRAC, we congratulate the success and achievements of this Mayor and Board of Aldermen. We are hopeful Mayor Haley does run for re-election as Mayor of McMinnville. The progress more than supports this outcome.  The overall ambition is to make McMinnville the best place to live, work, play, and visit.