Brentwood 2024 — How Do You Think We Should Wisely Spend Tax Dollars?

Wishing you a meaningful Martin Luther King Jr. Day as we honor his legacy.  I hope you are warm & safe during this winter weather, had a fantastic holiday season and enjoyed time with friends and family.

As we move into the new year, it signals the start of our City Budget and Capital Spending process.  Brentwood Commissioners collaborate with City Staff to look at needs of our community and make decisions on how to wisely invest tax dollars.

I think it is important to keep in mind our responsibilities to the community and work to the betterment of Brentwood as a whole, keeping in mind the role of City Government and impact on our citizens.

Brentwood is financially stable, and for good reason.  The founding principle can be found in every city budgetCost Effective Service Delivery.  Every budget is formulated on the belief that, regardless of the sound financial position of the City, Brentwood must always look for ways to maintain and improve existing services while minimizing potential long‐term costs.

Recent disagreements among Brentwood Commissioners about priorities and spending appear to be coming to a head.  I would like to see this be a friendly discussion, but my priority is to represent our citizens interests and try to effectively deliver the results they want using the money they give us through taxes.

This is a big deal, because on January 18th, 10am in the City Hall Annex, the Brentwood Commission is going to debate whether or not to add $11.5 million (minimally) and possibly in excess of $16 million to build a dedicated indoor tennis & pickleball facility.  This meeting is both televised and open to the public, although there is no opportunity for public comment until our full City Commission meeting on January 22nd, 7pm at City Hall.  

As I’ve done since joining the commission, I’m sharing accurate, documented information as clearly as I can without going overly long because:

  • Good information is essential for making good decisions.

  • Your feedback is important.
  • I value your insight and perspective.

Please take the time to give this a look and let me know what you think.  When you are ready to share comments, you can reach me at either or 615-917-1384 (voice or text).


  • Retired Brentwood Chief of Police Jeff Hughes is running for Williamson County Sheriff.  He can use your help as his campaign gets started, and you can find out all about it here.

Chief Jeff Hughes running for Williamson County Sheriff
  • A pressing issue is whether or not to take on a $11.5 million+ project to add indoor Tennis & Pickleball as a new responsibility for the City of Brentwood.
      • Indoor tennis has typically been provided by private organizations such as the YMCA and tennis clubs, with the exception of the Williamson County Indoor Sports Complex near Tower Park.  The idea of Brentwood channeling significant tax dollars to support indoor tennis came up when the YMCA announced the sale of their Maryland Farms facility.

      • Crush Yard has announced plans to open a huge pickleball-centric bar & restaurant in Brentwood Place on Franklin Road in 2025.
      • Unsurprisingly, an Ad Hoc committee composed predominately of tennis & pickleball enthusiasts has recommended the city aggressively pursue this as a solo city project.
      • The City Commissioners will decide whether or not indoor tennis & pickleball should be taken on as a tax-subsidized priority, and if so, whether we rebuild a partnership to split costs with Williamson County Parks & Rec as previously proposed, or instead do it entirely through Brentwood taxpayer resources.
      • This decision will be discussed at a public meeting in the City Hall Annex room on the morning of January 18th starting at 10am.  Input in advance is appreciated and valued (public comments are not part of this meeting).
      • This is a heated issue with a lot of history.  If you would like much more information and links to the public meetings and documents, I’ve posted considerable detail on my website at  You will find the documents if you scroll to the bottom of the main page.

Rendering of the Tennis Pickleball facility from the Williamson County Parks & Rec proposal
  • Captain David O’Neil has been sworn in as our new District 6 Commissioner for Williamson County.  You can learn more about his from this Williamson Herald article.  Though he has been appointed to finish Erin Nations’ unexpired term, he has to run a campaign this Spring to keep his seat.  If you would like to support David financially, you can do so any of 3 ways:

      • Send a check made out to the David R. O’Neil Campaign Fund to 1417 Red Oak Drive, Brentwood, TN 37027.

      • His campaign Venmo is @David-Oneil-Dist6 (mobile last 4 digits-9542).
      • Apple pay support can go to 615-218-9542.

Brentwood Spending

This time of year, we look at how we spend your taxes, and the process has two big parts — the Annual Budget which is a comprehensive master plan focused mostly on operations & personnel, and the Capital Improvements Program, where we plan investment in the long-term in the future of our community.

In this newsletter I’m going to focus on part of the Capital Improvements Program and the decisions in front of the Brentwood Commission right now.

Here is a breakdown of the plan we approved last year setting direction through 2029:

Brentwood TN Capital Improvement Plan through 2029

The relative size of these program areas is also a reflection the City of Brentwood’s role and our responsibility to the community.  There are times that specific projects or programs grow relative to the others, but this is a good general indicator.

Brentwood has a long tradition of planning ahead and we’ve recently completed two major investments in public safety — our new Police Headquarters ($29 million) and Fire Station 5 ($8.6 million), Our plan over the next 6 years is to invest about $200 million in core elements of our city that impact every citizen daily:

      • The largest category is transportation at 44% of the capital budget.  This is primarily improvements and maintenance to roads.  This should be no surprise — traffic, safety, and road quality is the most common conversation I have as a commissioner.
      • The next largest division is utilities at 25%, which is primarily water & sewer.
      • As we go through the construction process and bring Windy Hill Park online, Parks & Recreation see something of an uptick to 10% where in the 2022-27 CIP Parks & Rec was 5%, which is more typical for Brentwood.

Transportation Spending

The detail on transportation spending includes specific projects to improve roads and bridges, and it set to follow a sensible timeline that allows the budgeting, planning, construction, and traffic flow to work.

You can also see when we plan on taking on debt in the form of GO Bonds to help fund the projects.

Utilities Spending

The second largest segment of our Capital Improvements Program is Utilities Spending, at 25% of our investment plan.

Like our transportation plan, we have a long-term vision for how to invest this money in a systematic way, and it also requires us to take on additional debt in the form of Water and Sewer Bonds.

How Brentwood Pays

This means that to fund the plan as is, we will need to issue about $27 million of bonds to borrow the money to pay for these assets.  Generally speaking, this isn’t a problem because we carefully balance the term of our debt with the life (duration) of what we buy.

While this isn’t an issue now and our conservative financial approach has earned us the highest bond credit rating and earns us low interest rates, we need to be careful of when adding significant spending.  Adding large financial commitments can turn into a problem quickly.

What has Changed — Tennis, Pickleball, and Old Smyrna Road

Since the announced closing of the Maryland Farms YMCA, Indoor Tennis & Pickleball has been in the news a lot.  I’m not going to try to recap again here, but you can find links to details in previous newsletters:

At this point, we still have three options which will be discussed at our commission briefing in the City Hall Annex Room at 10am, Jan 18.  This meeting is both televised and open to the public, although there is no opportunity for public comment until our full commission meeting at City Hall at 7pm on January 22nd.

In broad terms, our options now for indoor racquet sports are:

      • Push forward and add minimally $11.5 million to the capital improvements program to fund a stand-alone, Brentwood-only indoor tennis & pickleball facility.  This would also require Brentwood Parks & Recreation to hire personnel, develop the expertise to run an indoor facility, and commit to pay for all future maintenance.
      • Step back, use the time we have since Williamson County Parks & Rec has reopened the Maryland Farms facility, and try to rebuild a partnership with Williamson County similar to what was proposed by them a year ago.  Williamson County has deep expertise in this field as demonstrated by the United States Tennis Association recognizing them as “USTA Tennessee’s Parks & Recreation of the Year”.  If we want to enter the indoor racquet sports business as a city, this option will cut the investment in half, take care of the long-term maintenance liability, and would give us turnkey access to staffing and expertise.  If we do indoor racquet sports at all, I think we clearly need to do it in partnership with Williamson County.
      • The third option would be to acknowledge that spending significant resources on a recreational project that could only be enjoyed by a relatively small percentage of our citizens may not be the best use of our taxes.

Old Smyrna Road improvements are another area where we have discovered we may need to review and consider increasing our budget.

The need to improve Old Smyrna Road has been “on the radar” at Brentwood for decades, and it is a well-known challenge as we balance functionality with its history and scenic location.

If you look at the Transportation detail above, you can see that we already have $6.4 million planned over the next few years for improvements.  What has changed is that 1) Brentwood took advantage of the opportunity to add Windy Hill Park to the west side of Old Smyrna Road and 2) this road has continued to get busier, deteriorate, and create more safety concerns.

As a result, the Brentwood Commission hired Sullivan Engineering to study the opportunity and present solutions, which they did at our September 21st commission briefing.

While still in early stages of planning, there is an opportunity to preserve the most scenic part of Old Smyrna Road as a “linier park” while bringing the rest of the road up to modern standards.  Making these upgrades will require adding about $10 million to the transportation plan over the next 6 years.

If you would like to learn more about this, there is a summary write-up here, you can find a video of the September presentation here (starting about 30 minutes in), and the presentation slides here.

Prioritizing the importance of an indoor tennis/pickleball facility vs. Old Smyrna Road is not the only thing we need to balance.  Other capital spending needs to consider include:

      • City Hall renovations — our city offices have been only mildly updated over the last 30 years.  The layout, furniture, and flow need to be seriously updated if we are to continue to attract top-quality city staff.
      • The “Brentwood dead spot” in cell service along Concord Road, Crockett Park, and Wilson Pike — we need to work with cellular providers to improve.

As a City, we are very strong financially right now, but I’m very concerned that if we are not careful and deliberate with spending, we will not stay this way.

I’ll look forward to hearing from you at or 615-917-1384 (voice or text).


If you made it down this far and are still reading, you must be really interested.  Since we are both here together, I’ll tell you how proud I am of our three Ravenwood Football Alumni who played for Michigan on their National Championship Team.  Junior Colson, Miles Pollard, and my son Trevor Andrews had an amazing experience, and Junior is headed towards the NFL Draft after finishing the year leading Michigan in tackles.  They are just 3 of many D1 athletes to come out of BHS and Ravenwood these past few years (I’ll mention John Windley, Jake Briningstool, Lee Molette, Walker Merrill and Grahm Barton as just a few more of the dozens).

Nelson Andrews
City of Brentwood
“From Brentwood, For Brentwood”


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