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March 25, 2010

Master Plan: Governmental and Tax Strategies Assessment

The  Clarksville Strategic Master Plan Retail/Entertainment Assessment Committee has submitted the following assessment to the city for review and debate. Clarksville is currently accumulating data and input from individuals, business representatives and civic leaders prior to creating a new development plan for the city.

Governmental Structure and Tax Strategies Sub-Committee Assessments

Task Overview of  the Governmental Structure and Tax Strategies Sub-Committee

This Committee has been charged with the task of brainstorming City Governmental Structure and Tax Strategies. The Committee has met a total of four times and consists of Linda Rudolph, Wilbur Berry, Todd Halliday, Tommy Vallejos, and Lee Elder. The Committee is chaired by Mark Briggs. Guests of the Committee have been David Riggins, Audrea Harris Russell Archambault, Jeff Bibb, Mike Evans, Dick Batson, James Chavez and Tim Hall

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)


  • Recent accomplishments including the Marina, Greenways the Riverwalk, Fort Defiance and others
  • Consolidated Schools System
  • Increasing property values and tax base
  • Positive sales tax collections even through the recession ?(likely attributable to Ft. Campbell’s increase of combat pay and military dependents)
  • Cooperation (for the most part) of our current County Mayor and Commission
  • Cooperation (for the most part) of our current City Mayor and Council
  • Cooperation (for the most part) of our two governments
  • Low tax rates
  • Recent Industrial Development with more space to grow
  • Austin Peay State University
  • Fort Campbell
  • Economic Development Council and leadership of each body
  • New Hospital


  • Limited revenue opportunities due to tax structure limitations and low tax rates
  • Geographical layout of Clarksville (including sprawl)
  • Overlapping local governments and services
  • Lack of consistent zoning (particularly on main corridors)
  • Overhead power lines (perhaps the most significant citizen complaint)
  • Lack of regulation of signs
  • Redevelopment needed in  areas in central city (New Providence, East College, Ft Campbell Blvd. and Hilldale)
  • Green space and parks
  • High Crime rates and inadequate police funding
  • Ward-only voting
  • Political infighting that continues over the years
  • Tax increases in large doses with many years in between for political reasons


  • Jobs for military- particularly those mustering out of the service and military spouses
  • Event center
  • APSU growth
  • CDE leverage of Light Band
  • Airport improvement
  • Marina
  • Growth of city
  • Diverse Community
  • Newcomers (which make up over 60% of population)
  • Low Housing Costs


  • Economic Dependency on Ft. Campbell
  • Gangs
  • Public Transportation
  • Infrastructure
  • Lack of  local media owned and operated out of town
  • Lack of public transportation to Nashville

Analysis Pertaining to the Assessment Area

Key Opportunities and/or Initiatives in the Assessment Area have been organized into three ranges of Priorities:

  1. Short-Range – Less than 3 Years
  2. Mid-Range –    4 to 10 Years
  3. Long-Range – 10 to 20 Years

Short-Range – Less than 3 Years

Focus on Austin Peay as the center point of growth and redevelopment of the City. In this regard, the discussion focused more on removing barriers for Austin Peay to grow as the focus of the plan. As an example, it was mentioned that the City and County might provide the land for APSU’s growth- as was provided Hemlock- resulting in growth without the expenditure of funds for land acquisition. Such a plan would utilize the involvement of the IDB, the City and the County to coordinate necessary efforts. The net effect: new students would quickly expand into areas in which there is a desire for redevelopment such as New Providence, East College, Kraft Street and even Hilldale. The county’s participation in the Capital Project revenue district might provide a boost for this plan. The Sub-Committee dedicated one meeting to these matters.

According to President Tim Hall, the number one factor in allowing Austin Peay State University to grow is to acquire property which is contiguous to or in close proximity to the University. The state funding previously available for this has evaporated. As a result, ASPU is land-locked so that student growth has had to come from on line courses as well as potentially remote campuses. Parking is needed as well as faculty office space and eventually on campus housing and educational buildings. Step growth will not be achieved without more space.  After four meetings, it is clear that the subcommittee believes that more on-campus students is the best way to redevelop the areas around the central city. Immediate consideration should be given to acquisition of properties as close to Austin Peay as possible that can be deeded over to the University. The economic effect of doubling or tripling the size of the University would have more positive effect on the needed redevelopment areas of Clarksville than any other project.

Also, consideration should be given to the construction of a new football stadium. The overall effect of a new stadium to the Austin Peay campus (potentially where Lincoln Homes is now) would be an economic impact on the city that is far- reaching and well beyond most other civic projects, potentially even surpassing a proposed civic center.           A further key to this last recommendation would be improved living conditions in better housing for the existing residents of Lincoln Homes. Additionally, the Vulcan plant should definitely be a target of purchase that the city could make for Austin Peay. The economic effects are far reaching and well beyond the purchase price. Should on campus students double or triple, the sub-Committee feels that most of the desired redevelopment would be followed by private redevelopment on a far greater scope and at a much faster pace than any governmental incentives heretofore considered.

  • Gradual property tax rate increases over time would be a significant enhancement to the lump sum method now used.
  • Provide incentives to redevelop the old hospital land within the new Madison Street corridor guidelines. A PILOT could and should be used for implementation of this plan.
  • Leverage state and federal money in redevelopment. Should we step out for property acquisition around Austin Peay, it is likely that state, federal and, perhaps, even private funds could be acquired to expand the University’s breadth out to Kraft Street, down East College and back to Castle Heights as outlined in APSU’s published plan for growth
  • Incentivize the development of class A office space of significant size as “tools” for commercial growth.
  • Moratorium on annexation until infill accelerates with exception for item G.
  • Annex Industrial Park with 10 year PILOTS for existing and new industry. City services are being provided at no cost currently and many other cities have their industrial parks within the city limits.

Mid-Range – 4 to 10 Years

A good outcome of this planning process is a change from a ward elected council to a mix of ward elected council and at large elected council members. The sub-Committee believes that an all ward elected council generally does not adequately represent the city as a whole and over-all city matters are often left beholding to more limited interests of the more narrowly focused wards.

  • Promote development within the existing city limits to help with overtaxed local utilities, transportation and police/fire costs instead of continuing sprawl away from the city center.
  • Consolidation of city and county governments is desirable for a number of practical reasons in addition to potential savings but it is probably not politically acceptable or feasible at this time due to state law that requires that a majority of both city and county voters approve the measure rather than a simple majority. In the meantime, as many steps toward functional consolidation as are practical should be done now until the City/County achieves formal consolidation. There are some unelected functions that overlap that could be done by legislative vote and cooperation between the two governments.
  • Review the effect on term limits of councils which is presently deemed to be equally negative and positive especially when coupled with ward-only voting. Many council members are either very inexperienced or elected for a narrow purpose, holding back overall city needs.
  • Gradual increases in tax rates were suggested as a better mechanism for revenue increases rather than all-or-nothing, large rate increases less frequently.
  • City departments should assess fees for services for revenue enhancement
  • Use community assessment fees
  • Implement storm water utility fees already authorized
  • Transfer tax based on values of transferred property that are already on the books

The Sub-Committee discussed the need for redevelopment of certain areas in line with the fill in development in lieu of sprawl (specifically New Providence, the Kraft Street/East College area and Hilldale). There are a number of different methods to accomplish redevelopment such as PILOTS, community development agencies, special assessment districts. The Sub-Committee is of the opinion that professional help is needed to determine the best methods of encouraging development. As previously stated, an overriding theme is that APSU growth would mitigate these much faster than governmental incentives.

Some zoning matters were briefly discussed (specifically, wires, signs, sidewalks, etc.). The majority of the Sub-Committee concurs that many more guidelines have to be implemented, especially along mail corridors of transport. As the City fills in, wider street requirements that facilitate a denser population and on-street parking will be necessary.

Long-Range — 10 to 20 Years

  • Consolidation of City/County governments
  • Lobby and complete 840 and the ring road of 374
  • Complete current plan of Greenspace, Riverwalk, Marina and Parks
  • Eliminate overhead power lines, plan for full sidewalk coverage
  • Consider a new regional airport, perhaps north of Clarksville

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