The state is outsourcing the management of its portfolio of its office properties, a move that will require about 125 employees to apply for jobs with the vendor taking over that work, reports The Tennessean. Officials expect to save roughly $50 million over the next five years from Chicago-based real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle taking over facilities management for 10.5 million square feet of state-owned and leased office properties statewide starting July 1.
Under a previous contract, Jones Lang LaSalle conducted an assessment of 33 major state properties that led to the recommendation that the state should reduce its footprint to 1.4 million square feet by the second quarter next year.
That will come from a combination of moving some employees to space in underutilized state-owned buildings and completely leaving state-owned properties deemed as too costly to maintain and operate.
“We’re having an expert handle the facilities management for us,” said Steve Cates, the state’s General Services commissioner, who in addition to the $50 million in savings sees Tennessee avoiding $25 million in one-time costs, plus $3 million annually, by not having to purchase and maintain the necessary technology and equipment, as well as set up a call center.
…Under the five-year contract, Jones Lang would be paid a management fee of up to $5 million a year. The company also will continue to help General Services with business
analysis to determine whether to spend on buildings and capital projects across the state.
The affected state employees were informed last month the state would no longer be employing people in job categories such as facilities administrators, facilities managers and building maintenance workers. They’re eligible for interviews for positions available under the new operating model, said Peter Uber, a Jones Lang managing director.
As of today, reports the Leaf-Chronicle, Tennesseans can download Ready TN, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s (TEMA) popular smartphone preparedness application, to iPhone and iPad devices and access the application’s information and resources on hazards and how to be ready for emergencies. “It is incredibly important Tennesseans take time to prepare for emergencies, and this new app from TEMA is designed to be responsive to our customers, the taxpayers,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “Citizens are relying increasingly on their mobile devices for relevant and timely information, and the ReadyTN app delivers critical tips and resources to Tennesseans so they can be prepared the next time a disaster strikes.”
iPhone and iPad owners simply need to search for ReadyTN in the App Store or in the iTunes Store and then download the application to their devices.
The ReadyTN browser landing page in the iTunes Store is http://bit.ly/StqFxU. Once active, ReadyTN will provide location-based information on severe weather, road conditions, open shelters and local government contacts. Preparedness tips for specific hazards and checklists for emergency kit items are also provided in the application’s content
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency knows about a state audit that shows public disaster recovery money is getting paid slowly but a spokesman said there are three public assistance employees and the agency is working as fast as it can.
The performance audit by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office said TEMA takes an average of three months, sometimes longer, to repay local costs for cleanup and repair of public property after a disaster.
“Delaying passing through of funds to county and local governments and certain nonprofit organizations can delay cleanup and recovery work, which can elevate costs and increase problems,” the audit said.
News release from Department of Transportation:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer names Scott C. Black as the new Director of TDOT’s Project Management Division. In his new post, Black will oversee Project Management offices at TDOT Headquarters and in each of TDOT’s four regional offices. The Project Management Division is also responsible for implementing the State Industrial Access (SIA) Program that provides funding and technical assistance for highway access for new and expanding industries across the state.
Before joining TDOT, Black served as the Manager of Budget, Finance, and Administration for the Nashville Convention Center Authority. Previous to that post, Black served as Vice President of Development for the Bristol Development Group, a Brentwood based residential real estate company. Black’s experience also includes numerous project management positions with architectural and design firms.
“TDOT’s Project Management Division plays a crucial role in our efforts to deliver quality transportation projects on time and on budget,” said Commissioner Schroer. “Scott’s background in project management combined with his experience in overseeing large projects will be an incredible asset to the department.”
“I appreciate Commissioner Schroer’s confidence in my ability to lead the Project Management Division,” said Black. “I look forward to helping lead the department’s efforts in delivering successful projects.”
Black will assume his position with TDOT beginning October 31. A photo of Mr. Black is attached to this e-mail.
News relelase from TWRA:
NASHVILLE —The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced that Catoosa Wildlife Management Area located in Cumberland, Morgan, and Fentress counties will be closed to all public access effective Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. TWRA officials believe this closure is necessary to ensure the safety of visitors using Catoosa WMA and agency employees working in the area.
Since late June, vandals have placed nails, spikes, and nail-boards in fields, secondary roads, and trails on the WMA. TWRA officials believe this vandalism may be a reaction by a small group of individuals dissatisfied with recent changes in the management of wild hog populations on Catoosa.
As part of the overall strategy to address the increasing wild hog population on the Cumberland Plateau, an aggressive program to trap and remove wild hogs was initiated on Catoosa WMA in early June, according to Kirk Miles, TWRA Region III Wildlife Program Manager. Shortly thereafter, employees began finding nails and spikes in fields and along secondary roads accessing wild hog trap sites.
“Initially, we felt that we were able to effectively find and clean up the vandalized sites,” Miles said. “However, the problem has escalated to the point that we no longer feel the area is safe for public use.”
To date 13 tires have been damaged on TWRA trucks used on the WMA. Ten of the tires had to be replaced. Four tractor tires have had flat tires repaired. One TWRA employee narrowly escaped serious injury when he stepped on a large nail.
In a recent deposition, state lawyers refused to allow state geologist James Clark to answer questions about what happened in a closed-door meeting between officials of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and officials of Waste Management Inc.l, reports Anne Paine. Now a judge has ordered that the questions be answered. The decision opens the way for the geologist to speak about topics that include who pressured him to find ways to allow the expansion of an almost-full landfill in Marshall County into an area with a sinkhole and creek to move forward.
…Clark was being quizzed as part of a lawsuit filed against Waste Management and its Cedar Ridge Landfill in Lewisburg by four neighbors and one local environmental group. They say pollution, including chlorides, ammonia, nitrates and silt, has harmed properties and continues to taint creeks and springs. Waste Management has denied that this is so. The state was pulled into the case as a third party.
….Clark “is ordered to attend his deposition scheduled on August 8, 2011,” wrote Joe B. Brown, U.S. magistrate judge for the Middle District Court of Tennessee. Clark may testify about discussions and meetings with representatives of Waste Management and state staff but not discussions where the state’s environment department general counsel or staff from the attorney general’s office were present, Brown wrote.
Questions to which state attorneys allowed no answers this summer included just who had been pressuring Clark to find a way to approve the permit. He had testified he had been pressed to do so.
He also was not allowed to say how the state, in the private meetings, decided that boring two holes into the proposed expansion site at the landfill “fully resolves the long-standing concerns of a collapse” there, according to a filing by attorney Elizabeth Murphy, representing the neighbors and the environmental group.
News release from Department of Finance and Administration:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s top-to-bottom review of state government is resulting in greater efficiency and cost savings in state property management with the merger of two closely-related state divisions. Real Property Administration will be combined with Property Services Management in the Department of General Services. To date, Real Property has been located in Finance & Administration.
“An effective state government is one that provides core services, is responsive to citizens and operates at the lowest possible cost,” Haslam said. “The benefits of merging these two areas became obvious to us early in our review to achieve more effective service and upkeep of state properties, and ultimately significant cost savings in state operations.”
In his inaugural address, the governor pledged to conduct a top to bottom review of each state department to set priorities and establish measurable goals. He called on each cabinet member to take a hard look at state operations to ensure that the best service is being delivered in the most efficient manner.
“Governor Haslam challenged me to really look at overhauling the way we manage our real estate assets, and this structural change is simply the beginning of that process,” General Services Commissioner Steve Cates said. “It just makes sense to bring together people whose duties are so closely related, and I know we’ll see positive results in short order.”
Real Property Administration, with 63 full-time positions, is responsible for all capital improvements and construction, serving to develop the state’s capital initiatives and real property assets. It is the implementation arm of the State Building Commission, responsible for all capital improvements. Property Services Management has 189 employees and operates, manages, and maintains state facilities. The division also administers comprehensive policies and procedures for the management of state-owned and leased facilities statewide.
“From the very beginning of his administration, Governor Haslam charged us to look for ways to be more effective and efficient,” Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes said. “Commissioner Cates’ strong real estate background brings significant value to this process, and we will all work to help make this a successful transition.”
The Department of General Services facilitates the operation of state government in the areas of procurement, facility management, motor vehicle and equipment management, postal services, warehousing, records management and similar services.
There are 16 state office building complexes across Tennessee, with 376 leased buildings and 135 state-owned buildings.
Waste Management Inc., told it could not expand a landfill near Lewisburg by state regulators under Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration, has been told that it can expand under a plan approved by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, reports Anne Paine.
The Department of Environment and Conservation said in April, 2010, that the company should not expand its almost-full Cedar Ridge Landfill into an area with a sinkhole and creek. Contamination from the landfill 55 miles south of Nashville had showed up repeatedly in local waters, regulators said. Also, limestone riddled with cracks and open cavities lies beneath much of the property, making the area unstable.
This year under a new governor, state regulators held private negotiations with landfill officials who had appealed the denial. The meetings led to a signed agreement that is serving as a how-to-expand-the-landfill guide.
State environmental officials say the document has nothing to do with politics and doesn’t guarantee approval for extending the life of the landfill in Lewisburg, where Middle Tennessee waste — including some of Nashville’s sewage sludge — has gone over the years.
“We said, ‘Here are our objections,’ and they said, ‘Well, we think we can give you information to overcome those objections,’ ” said Bob Martineau, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
We said, ‘OK, we’ll give you a shot to do that.’ ”
Local resident Kathy Fox said she is worried and perplexed. Engineering to try to fix the site’s many shortcomings could bring problems later.
“We’d like to know why the state has changed its mind,” said Fox, with the nonprofit Tri-County Environmental Association.
“We felt like it’s not a matter of if the sinkhole will collapse, but when. You would have such a disaster — the pollution that would cause would be beyond our imagination.”
The group is one of five parties — the others being neighbors of the landfill — that filed a lawsuit against Waste Management last year over pollution from the more than 20-year-old landfill, which they say continues to taint creeks and springs.
Waste Management has denied the accusations, saying it has no ongoing state or federal violations at its Cedar Ridge Landfill in Marshall County.