Local

TVA Pushing Long-term Renewal Contracts to Serviced Communities

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is pressuring municipalities to enter into long-term contracts out of concerns that communities will begin to abandon services and pursue more green initiatives, according to an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel. Since August, TVA has pressured 80% of the power companies that utilize its output to sign 20-year contracts, much longer than previous agreements. Detractors say that the move will force these communities to remain dependent on fossil fuels as opposed to providing citizens with more renewable energy options. Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis have yet to renew their TVA contracts.

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Murfreesboro City Council Approves Sale of Electric Department

The Murfreesboro City Council on Thursday approved the sale of its electric department to the nonprofit Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTEMC) in a 6-1 vote, the Daily News Journal reports. With the deal, the city will receive $245 million, with MTEMC paying $43 million up front, and $17.3 million over the course of 15 years, including 3.3% interest. The move, which excludes the Murfreesboro Electric Department building and property, is expected to save the city $93 million in necessary upgrades to the utility’s infrastructure. The sale now goes to the Tennessee Valley Authority for final approval. 

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50-year Public Servant Bill Whitson Passes Over the Weekend

Bill Whitson, who served more than 50 years in Nashville and Tennessee governments, died this past weekend at age 90, The Tennessean reports. Throughout his illustrious career, Whitson served on multiple Nashville mayoral administrations and in the cabinet of former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter, overseeing the state General Services Commission. "He was there at the very start of Metropolitan Government and was one of the legendary public servants who assured our success," said former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell. "He was very much aware that he is among the last of an extraordinary cohort of people." Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.

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Flaw in School Voucher Program Could Cost Indigent Families

Tennessee education officials have identified a glitch in the state’s school voucher plan that could negatively impact low-income families, the Commercial Appeal reports. As it stands, the plan would subject indigent parents who opt for the private school voucher to federal taxes on the approximately $7,300 annually given to attend non-government institutions. Additionally, some of these families risk losing other tax-based benefits if they choose the private school voucher. The Tennessee Department of Education said it intends to address the issue and make the necessary changes to ensure the vouchers will not be considered taxable income.

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Murfreesboro Fire Captain Files Federal Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination

A Murfreesboro fire captain who says he was forced to resign or lose his pension after complaining about time clock issues has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that he was targeted because he is black, the Daily News Journal reports. The complaint maintains that Battalion Chief Daryl Alexander changed plaintiff Theodore Pertiller’s time records without reason and that Pertiller was not properly compensated for overtime worked, stating there was no legitimate reason for Alexander’s actions and "similarly situated non-African-American employees were not subjected to this type of conduct." Pertiller says he complained to the City’s Human Resources Department about the incident, and that the city’s Human Resources Department agreed that race may have been a factor. City spokesman Mike Browning denied the allegations and said that Pertiller chose to retire prior to completion of the disciplinary process.
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Clarksville-Montgomery County to Hold Public Hearings Regarding Growth Plan

The city of Clarksville will hold two public hearings regarding its 20-year Growth Plan that will determine potential annexations for areas of Montgomery County into the city, the Leaf Chronicle reports. The Growth Plan is a long-range planning map that seeks to determine where future population growth will most likely happen within the county. Public hearing dates are listed below. You can also send comments via email to rpc@cityofclarksville.com by Oct. 9.
  • Monday, Sept. 30, from 6 – 8 p.m., Rossview Elementary School gymnasium, 2235 Cardinal Ln., Clarksville
  • Tuesday, Oct. 1, from 6 – 8 p.m., Civic Hall, Montgomery County Veterans Plaza, 350 Pageant Ln. Suite 201, Clarksville
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Shelby County Considers Next Steps if Memphis Tax Hike Passes

As Memphians prepare to vote on a sales tax referendum intended to fund police and fire department pensions, Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford, Jr. is considering strategies on how best to split the revenue from those taxes between the county and the city, the Commercial Appeal reports. Ford has been a vocal detractor of the referendum, saying sales taxes are “arguably the most regressive” and “take a larger percentage of income from low-income taxpayers than from high-income taxpayers.” If the city’s tax policy passes, the county could raise its own sales tax rate up to that of the city rate. The referendum is up for vote on Oct. 3.

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Knoxville City Council Approves Gun Show Ban on City Property

The Knoxville City Council on Tuesday voted 8-1 to formally ask the mayor to consider banning gun shows at city-owned spaces, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Councilwoman Gwen McKenzie, who put forth the resolution, said it has nothing to do with her views on legal gun ownership, but feels it is an "insult to injury" for the city to allow gun shows in areas of town that have for years suffered from gun violence. Mayor Madeline Rogero said she supports the resolution and would not allow any new gun show bookings for city-owned property. Successive mayors will have to recommit to the ban for it to remain in effect.

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Secretary of State Hargett Addresses Recently Blocked Voter Registration Law

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett on Tuesday spoke up regarding the new state law that would require voter registration groups to undergo state training, and fine paid registration groups for incomplete forms, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The legislation was introduced after complaints from Republican election officials in Shelby and Davidson counties who said they were overwhelmed by last-minute voter registration forms, many of which were incomplete. Hargett stressed the law was to cover paid registration assistance and said “If you're doing a voter registration drive, you owe it to that individual to make sure that voter registration form is complete … If you turn in a form that's half done, you really haven't helped that voter, have you?" HB1079/SB0971 was set to take effect on October 1; however, was blocked by by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger who called the law a “complex and punitive regulatory scheme.”

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Knoxville Council Seeks to Ban Gun Shows on City-owned Properties

The Knoxville City Council plans to ask the mayor next week to ban gun shows at city-owned spaces, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The resolution, sponsored by seven of nine city council members, is all but guaranteed to face backlash from gun rights groups, some of which challenged a similar ban in Nashville that was ultimately upheld by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The council will vote on the resolution in its Sept. 24 meeting at 6 p.m., EDT in the City-County Building.

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