Nolensville Town Manager Victor Lay Discusses Challenges of Growth

Nolensville Town Manager Victor Lay Discusses Challenges of Growth


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Town Manager of Nolensville, Tennessee Victor Lay to the newsmaker line to talk about his move from Spring Hill administrator to Nolensville and the experience he brings to the town.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our newsmaker line Victor Lay, who is the Nolensville town manager. Good morning, Victor.

Lay: Good morning. Glad to be here.

Leahy: Victor, this will surprise you, but we know each other because our daughters went to high school together. When you were the Spring Hill city administrator, your daughter and my daughter were good friends. So there you go. How about that?

Lay: That’s pretty interesting. I did not know that.

Leahy: I think we went to your church one time, too, down in Spring Hill. And it was a great experience. And we’re delighted to have you on here. You have an extensive record in management and public administration.

You were the city administrator in Spring Hill for some time. You resigned to become the town manager of Nolensville. Tell us a little bit about why you made that move, when you made that move, and what’s happened since.

Lay: So in January of this year actually, I had received a call from a recruiter, if you will, from Nolensville, asking me to consider that work. And after a considerable amount of thought and process, I decided that I would do that. And so I left in January. I started there on January 19 after having been in Spring Hill for 11 years.

Leahy: That’s a long time. That’s a long time. And during that 11 years, because I live down there. I live in the city of Spring Hill. Our mailing address is Thompson Station. But I live down there. What a lot of change we’ve seen in Spring Hill in 11 years.

Lay: Absolutely. It went from a town that was just about roughly 25,000 to – we think this federal census to 2020 census was going to show Spring Hill somewhere north of 45,000.

Leahy: Yeah, I’ve seen that. And the growth just seems to continue and continue. That is huge growth, isn’t it?

Lay: It’s really incredible growth for as long as it has occurred. The growth process in Spring Hill started in 2005, really 2003. And it’s just been at a blistering pace is what I usually call it ever since.

Leahy: 11 years of a strong track record as city administrator in Spring Hill, which has seen this tremendous growth. What prompted you to take the job with Nolensville, which is not a city but a town?

Spring Hill is one-third in Williamson County, two-thirds in Maury County. Nolensville is entirely in Williamson County. It’s smaller but experiencing perhaps even more growth than Spring Hill, as hard as that is to imagine. Why did you make that particular kind of a move, Victor?

Lay: I looked at it from a standpoint of being able to use all of the skill sets that I have generated in city and town management over the past 26 years, and it fit right there in the town of Nolensville.

It’s a small town, a smaller community, but they’re about to go through very similar things that Spring Hill has already gone through. And I felt when I sat and looked at them that Nolensville was probably about 10 to 15 years behind where Spring Hill was today.

It would give them opportunities to put some things in motion that could help maybe alleviate some of those growing pains during that process.

Leahy: Physically, the town of Nolensville, how does it compare size-wise just in the physical area to Spring Hill?

Lay: The town of Nolensville is roughly 10 square miles. The city of Spring Hill is somewhere around 30 to 35 square miles. So relative size, it’s about a third. Population-wise, the town of Nolensville is probably – with the 2020 census we’re hoping that number is going to be – around 14,000.

The official population is just north of 11,000. So it’s roughly about a quarter of the size population-wise. Is that the information you were looking for?

Leahy: Yes. But on a per-square-mile basis, it’s pretty close to Spring Hill in terms of population per square mile.

Lay: Very close. The density is very close to Spring Hill.

Leahy: What’s the difference between being a city administrator, which is a form of a corporate organization, versus a town manager? A town is different than a city. Tell us about those differences.

Lay: In Tennessee, municipalities can actually have a choice in the way that they incorporate if they want to call themselves a town or a city. And there’s not a lot of distinction between the two other than just the vernacular.

And there are a lot of people who want their area, their municipality, to be called a town just because of the quaintness of it (i.e. the town of Thompson Station) and things like that. Spring Hill used to be called a town. But back in the 90s, they decided that they would change their vernacular to city.

And so they made all of the necessary corporate adjustments and changed everything to the city because they wanted that idea that they were going to grow beyond the connotations that a town might be.

Typically, you think of a town as being smaller, but that’s not necessarily the case because you have the town of Smyrna, which is also, as you know, one of the larger municipalities in the region.

Leahy: I should have known that, but I didn’t know that. I think I’ve always thought of Smyrna as a city, but it’s a town.

Lay: It is.

Leahy: That’s very interesting. We’ll get to the challenges for you in terms of what’s ahead for Nolensville a little bit in our next segment. But I want to talk about how your job might be different because it’s a little bit smaller, a little closer to Nashville.

And the other part of this is, in Spring Hill, I’m largely removed from any significant city decisions. I think I went to a city council meeting once, perhaps, and it’s very intense. Everybody that’s involved in development has a lot on the line.

But for the average person, it’s sort of like, we’ll let them do what they’re going to do, and I’ll pay my taxes and I’ll do my job. (Lay chuckles) Which is not necessarily in Spring Hill. You’re laughing. Isn’t that the case?

Lay: That is the case a lot of the time. The individuals or rank-and-file citizens, basically, they’re not interested in necessarily getting involved in watching all of the minutiae with regard to the weekly and monthly decisions of the council.

They might complain about one aspect or another, but in general, they’re just really not engaged in that depth.

Leahy: My sense is perhaps that the job of being a city administrator in Spring Hill, although most of the people are sort of not engaged, those who are engaged, developers and builders and the like, are very intensely engaged.

My sense was that it was a highly politicized position, even though most people really weren’t paying a lot of attention to it. And perhaps that scale and that pressure were very, very significantly different from Nolensville. Do I have that right or wrong?

Lay: I would say that it was quite a bit more intense than maybe what’s existing in Nolensville at the current time. There were so many things that were going on. And you’re correct that it had a lot of political nature to it.

As much as we try to make the position of city administrator or town manager non-political – and I really, really work hard to be a non-political individual – There’s politics in almost everything that occurs with pressure from one side or the other.

Spring Hill – it was quite intense because you had a lot of different things that were happening and a lot of different players pushing one direction or another.

Leahy: Well, let me tell you something, to do that job for 11 years and to exit on a high note is a tribute to your ability to manage people and the processes and all the political forces. I don’t see how anybody could do it for that long and leave on such a high note. So a tip of the hat to you for that capability.

Lay: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Leahy: Stick with us through the break. I want to come back to get what’s going on in Nolensville and what the challenges are ahead there. If you can stay through the break with us.

Lay: Absolutely glad to be here.

Listen to the full first hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Victor Lay” by Victor Lay. Background Photo “Spring Hill City Hall” by Skye Marthaler. CC BY-SA 3.0.

















Metro Councilmember At-Large Steve Glover and Co-Host Cunningham Discuss Public Safety Spending and Getting Involved in Local Politics

Metro Councilmember At-Large Steve Glover and Co-Host Cunningham Discuss Public Safety Spending and Getting Involved in Local Politics


Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Metro Nashville’s City Council Member-at-Large Steve Glover to the newsmakers line to discuss his view on public safety spending and how to get involved in local politics as a fiscal conservative.

Leahy: We are joined by our good friend Metro Council Member Steve Glover. Steve, you want to talk a little bit about some police issues.

Glover: I want to talk about public safety very quickly. I know we’re going to be limited here. I ran into an officer last night, not literally in a wreck, but happened to see him and I stopped and spoke with him. I said man that car looks rough. He goes. Yeah. It’s got well over a hundred thousand miles on it. And I said what? And we just kind of spoke about that.

And it just churned back up the fact that that we just approved a new police precinct in South East Nashville. Now no one’s saying we don’t need it. But what I’m saying is we’re not staffed for it. We have enough staff right now. We’re somewhere between 150 and 200 officers short right now today. We’re somewhere between 50 and 85 firefighters short today.

We’re somewhere between seven and 10 stations for fire departments that we need in order to accommodate all the growth that we’ve had. But yet we spend money because of one particular union and we know who that is, they want it going into the public education for those buildings. I’m not saying we don’t need those buildings. I am saying that we have not gotten our priorities inline still in this city. And our police and our firefighters are so far behind right now, they’re running ragged because we’re running them ragged.

Leahy: What’s going on with morale among the police department and the fire department with all of these terrible budget decisions that are hurting them?

Glover: You know, what’s amazing? It’s unbelievable to me the positive attitude that they all still display. I don’t know how they do it. But thank God they do. Thank God, we’ve got men and women that get up every day and are willing to come out here and stick their neck out on the line for us and protect us. The least we can do is turn around and say let’s at least make your conditions better and give you enough staff.

Let’s put you where you need to be. We need to start focusing on our priorities and quit wasting money. Now, I keep saying it over and over but this is where I come back and Ben I’m going to parlay into your question. This is where I keep saying we’re 100,000 plus strong. In that commercial break right there heard somebody talking about women who are running. and look at what’s happened in the Republican Party.

We’ve got some phenomenal women who have run and they worked hard and they were ferocious. They went out there they won the seat and they’re doing a phenomenal job. Same thing here. You’ve got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And when I say it and when I heard that I went wow, that really summarizes it right there. So how do you run for local office? I’ve done the school board, as you know, Ben and I’ve done the council.

I’ve done them both and I won when everybody said I couldn’t win for the at-large. I won because we went out and we worked and we worked collectively. The conservatives came out and voted. Thank goodness. The same thing happens here. We’re 100,000 plus strong. I’ve got districts identified that we actually could win those seats with a moderate candidate. You don’t have to be a staunch Republican.

But a moderate candidate could win 12 to 15 seats in this city. We certainly could occupy three four five of the school board seats. And that desperately is needed because Lord knows that’s just dwindled down to almost nothing and our children are the ones who are going to pay the price and our city is going to be financially hurt. It’s going to be devastating in the decades to come.

Cunningham: Steve, I think a lot of people think that requires hundreds of thousands of dollars to run for office, but these local offices you can make a good dent with 10 or 15, or 20 grand. And if you’re opportunistic like you say if you identify those districts, perhaps even less.

Glover: Yep. I’ll tell you the real thing Ben and you know the answer here before I say it. The real thing on those local elections in those district elections is foot power. You got to be on the ground. You’ve got to go talk to people and you have to have a conviction. You’ve got to believe what you’re saying. And when I say and then that I mean, I’d that may sound trite but it’s not. You have to be convicted.

You have to have an inner personal conviction that what you want to do is good for the community. It would be good for you but it has to be good for the community. And if you have that desire, I promise you I can help connect you with a network and will help get you elected because Nashville needs really strong independent thinking people. And fiscal conservatives. Whether you’re Republican or not.

I’m a Republican and darn proud of it. You don’t have to be a Republican. You can be independent and you can be a moderate. But if you are a fiscal conservative then collectively we could work to where we start bringing the ties back in and hopefully slow down the hemorrhage because that’s what we’re doing. We’re hemorrhaging right now and pretending like everything’s okay. Our debt to operational ratio now has climbed to 15.95 percent Ben. You know that has got red flags flying up everywhere.

Leahy: Yeah, and that’s a very good point. I mean what would be the ratio that would be prudent for that ratio to be?

Glover: You need to be in the 10 to 12 percent range.

Leahy: So we’re going in the wrong direction.

Glover: Almost 50 percent if you look at the 10 percent range. 10 percent is somewhat comfortable. 12 percent is getting a little uncomfortable. Almost 16 percent is getting there. And you’re going to find it out in the next swing where they want to raise taxes. And that’s where you need to make sure you sign the petition to where it limits what we can raise taxes too.

Leahy: Last question for you.  So somebody listening to this is saying, yeah, I’d like to run but it’s an awful lot of work and it looks like I don’t wouldn’t have a chance. What do you say to that person? Got about a minute left here.

Glover: Call me. I’ll give everybody my number. It’s 615-481-4277. I love this city. I’ve got four grandbabies that whether they realize it or not are counting on me to work hard every day to try and give them a life in America and a life in this city that God granted me to have. And so, therefore, I do have a passion for this. There is no doubt about it.

Leahy: And we can feel that passion here Steve. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio