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Town project delays, cuts loom

With state and federal funding seriously reduced for road, sidewalk and other “capital improvements” in the town of Farragut, two town officials warn of project delays while far more drastic cuts are a possibility.

Dan Olson, town administrator, presented Farragut’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan before the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission April 17 that budgets roughly $17.5 million for projects through 2013.

“We tend to be very conservative, we have plenty of cash on hand,” Olson said.

However, Olson said town revenues were “marginal” during the past year, adding that “federal revenues are going to be down, state revenues are going to be down.

“When we first drafted [the plan], which was way back in February … oil prices per barrel were less than $100,” Olson added. “As the price of oil goes up tremendously … everything you can think of gets affected.”

However, “We should see an increase of sales tax with [new] Kroger and [new] Ingle’s opening, as well as other businesses,” Olson said. “I’m not allowed to be told how much sales tax any single business provides to the town.”

Farragut Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III said that while “there are an awful lot of projects yet to be done,” emphasis should be placed on “the limited number of dollars we have to transfer into the Capital Improvements Plan each year. It’s projected $2 million next year at this time,’’ about $1.5 million short of meeting the five year goal on an annual basis.

“Our revenue is being constrained more and more because of the war going on in Iraq,” Ford added. “And the flow down of federal dollars for road projects is being constrained, and T-DOT is repeating year-after-year that towns and counties better tighten up the belt because ‘we’re not going to be able to provide the funding that you were expecting.’”

That includes project delays.

“Even though T-DOT may have one of our projects on their agenda now, they may delay that for years before they actually have the funds themselves to funnel down,” Ford said.

The mayor said he understood state officials to indicate state-shared revenue with municipalities “could” be cut in the near future.

“When we see that, which is a major portion of our funding coming into the town of Farragut, we’ve got to realize that we have to be very careful about how we use our funds,” Ford said.

Olson said any town project “with a penny at all of federal funding” now comes under new scrutiny” that we have to follow, Federal Highway Administration rules and procedures, every step.

“The worst example of that is Old Stage Road sidewalk, which we got the grant in 2005,” Olson added, emphasizing that federal stipulations demanded plans be reworked plus a “five step process” initiated concerning property owner easements despite unanimous property owner consent prior to the “steps.”

“That should have been built, ideally, at the latest last spring,” Olson said. “We’ll be lucky now if we can get a bid a year from now. And that’s only a $250,000, $260,000 project.”

The administrator said Farragut is considering not pursuing federal grants under $500,000. “Why waste a bunch of staff time when we can’t get the projects done on time,” Olson said.

Olson said he was allowed to see Kmart’s sales tax revenue just before its Farragut location went out of business a few years ago. “Once I saw the number I was not surprised why that store closed because it was really, really low,” he said. Nationwide, “it was less than a third of what their stores average.”

Commission approved the plan unanimously (8-0, with Commissioner Dorothy “Dot” LaMarche absent).

Other Capital Improvement projects include:

• Reconstruction of Campbell Station Interchange to tie in with already completed Lovell Road interchange, which would be constructed in the next seven to 12 years.

• Campbell Station Road lane extension from Parkside Drive/Grigsby Chapel Road to Jamestown Boulevard from three and four lanes to five lanes. Estimated cost is $4.5 million, with the Town’s share $1.4. Anticipated bid letting is fall 2008.

• Campbell Station Road additional southbound lane north of Interstate 40/75 between the westbound on-ramp and Snyder Road. Cost to town of $150,000 through fiscal year 2013.

• Reconstruction of Everett Road between Union and Smith roads. Town’s portion of cost is between $300,000 and $550,000.

• Grigsby Chapel Road islands to replace center turn lanes for traffic calming. Cost for stamped asphalt would be $400,000, with project budgeted for construction in fiscal year 2009.

• Two McFee Road Park lightened rectangular fields, parking lot and lighted walk trail expected to open by spring 2009. An extra $1 million budgeted for fiscal year 2009 for playgrounds, splash pad and two picnic shelters, additional parking space and extension of entrance road. An extra $3.5 million has been budgeted overall, $2.5 million for fiscal years 2010 and 2011, for phases two through four.

• Watt Road extension south to connect with Old Stage Road. Project estimated to span two fiscal years. Cost to Town of $600,000 through 2013 fiscal year.

In other matters, the Commission:

• unanimously approved a site plan for an awning over the entrance at the Farragut Church of Christ, 136 Smith Road, zoned R-2, approximately 9.99 acres (Farragut Church of Christ, applicant)

• unanimously approved a site plan for a weather shelter for parents/adults to watch children at Concord Hills Recreation Complex, 10731 Farragut Hills Blvd., zoned R-2, 3.75 acres  (Larry George, applicant)

• unanimously approved a temporary certificate of occupancy for the new Ott’s restaurant along Kingston Pike pending recording of the final plat. Unanimously approved a resubdivision request of parcels 065, 089, and 06307, tax map 151, located on the southeast corner of Kingston Pike/S. Hobbs Road, zoned C-1 and O-1, approximately 23 acres, to construct a sidewalk on S. Hobbs Road. Resubdivision request includes plat note to have a walking trail built leading to a parking lot at Renaissance development. Unanimously approved two variances allowing sidewalk connecting points from Ott’s and Renaissance (Meyer’s Brothers Holdings, applicant)

• unanimously approved revisions for Colonial Turkey Creek Phase III, parcel 19107, tax map 130, located on north side of Parkside Drive between Gander Mountain and Belk’s, zoned C-2, 19.94 acres, subject to meeting all staff requirements. (Site Incorporated, applicant)

• held a workshop discussion to consider amending text of Farragut Zoning Ordinance to eliminate churches and private schools as allowed uses within all residential districts.


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