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Census hopes to bring in $500K annually to Lebanon: Mayor

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Philip Craighead

Lebanon to hold census, other projects in the works

Craighead outlines several plans during chat

In what he describes as several great opportunities in the works for the city, Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead hopes all the planning and hard work will pay off.

Already in progress is a special census which aims to count more people inside the city limits since the 2010 Census. Each new person counted brings $116 from the state on an annual basis.

"We have talked to a lot of local communities who have had success running special censuses in the past," Craighead said. "Some have hired independent contractors or firms to conduct their census. Others have received more favorable results by executing it in-house."

Craighead said Lebanon has decided to conduct the census themselves, with help from local leaders in Brentwood and Franklin.

The city will likely rely on a combination of paid personnel to supervise the process and volunteers to go door-to-door. There would also be a lead supervisor hired for the duration of the census, which Craighead said is behind schedule.

"We are working now, sending out flyers to let people know, but we are already a little behind. We have worked hard to make sure the survey is as simple as possible."

Craighead said the city budgeted $120,000 for the process, but he hopes the costs will hover around the $60,000-70,000 mark.

Based on new developments in the city since the last census, the mayor said he anticipates the population increase could be above 4,500. With those projections, the city could receive more than $500,000 annually extra from the state.

Mayor to propose $100K annual contribution to Expo Center

Craighead also said he intends to propose a contribution of $100,000 annually to the soon-to-be-constructed Expo Center at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center.

"Based on conservative estimates, the Expo Center will bring $130,000 a year to the city," Craighead said. "And that is being conservative. It could be more."

The Expo Center, which is scheduled to be open for construction bids now that the Wilson County Fair has concluded, is set to break ground soon.

Craighead agreed that from his perspective, he is willing to have the city help prepare the fairgrounds for the upcoming Junior High National Rodeo Championships by proposing to waive some of the fees associated with running water, sewer and gas connections for the construction of camping sites.

"Those are people that will come to our city and stay for several days, not just come in and leave the same day," Craighead said. "That's money that they will be spending in our restaurants and in our stores."

The rodeo will be located in Lebanon in 2016 and 2017. And given the central location nationally compared to years past, Craighead believes participation could be even higher than their estimates.

Corps of Engineers flood study to redraw flood maps

After an initial assessment from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lebanon is planning on conducting a 50/50-funded, comprehensive flood study of the city limits leading all the way north to the Cumberland River.

The study will take four years to complete and update flood maps that were originally written in the early 1980s using outdated techniques. It would take into consideration all water runoff and natural waterways such as Bartons and Sinking creeks.

At a cost of $1.4 million, $700,000 of which would be paid by the city, the study would create more accurate maps for developers who are interested in property throughout the city, especially the South Hartmann Drive area.

"We've done a good job of planning through the recession, and our reserve fund is pretty healthy. So I am going to propose that we set aside $175,000 a year for four years to pay for the project.

"Not only does this help developers who are interested in property that may be in a floodway or a floodplain, it will quality the city for 65/35 improvement projects with the Corps in the future." (Sixty-five percent funded from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 35 percent funded by the local government.)

Projects such as a proposed spillway dam that could be located near Stumpy Lane would qualify as a 65/35 project after the study if it would prove effective in reducing flooding, which could possibly lower flood risks even more for businesses and homeowners alike.

With the more accurate maps, planners could better design a flood plan that could also lower homeowners' insurance rates if they live in a floodway or floodplain, Craighead added.

The project will be headed up on behalf of the City of Lebanon by Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines.

$75K donation to Lebanon Youth Baseball for improvements

And in a stroke of giving back to the community, Craighead pointed out that the city is matching the $75,000 raised for the Lebanon Youth Baseball organization for the construction of batting cages and renovation of the restroom facilities at the Baird Park complex.

"With the purchase of the Floyd and Baxter Property on Carver Lane, we were able to move the city water and sewer department and have additional space for Lebanon Police Department for vehicles, evidence and a small precinct there."

And according to Craighead, the city was able to save close to $1.5 million by canceling the original water and sewer building that was to be located behind the Lebanon Police Department and renovating the LPD facility, as both purposes were served with the purchase of the Floyd and Baxter property.

"This was a great opportunity to support our youth," he added.

Even with so many irons in the fire, Craighead said he is excited about the future.

"Someone once told me I should focus on one thing at a time," the mayor quipped. "If we focused on one thing at a time, we'd never get anything accomplished."

Managing Editor Zack Owensby may be contacted at zowensby@wilsonpost.com.

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census, Expo Center, Lebanon, Lebanon City Council, Philip Craighead
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