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published on 05/14/2002

May Town Council Meeting

By staff writer

Saturday, May 25, 8:00 AM, the residents of Signal Mountain are invited to attend the Budget Work Session between the Town Council and department heads as they discuss the 2 Budget. Once again, the Town waited until the last minute to work on the next year’s budget. The Public Meeting to present the new budget is June 10. Before presenting the new budget, the department heads must make their requests. Citizens will not be allowed to participate in the discussion at the May 25th meeting, but are invited to observe, according to Mayor Althaus.

The Town Council Meeting began at 7:00 PM with all members present except Vice-mayor and Councilmember Bob Steel who was out of town.

After Mayor Althaus called the meeting to order, Councilmember Steve Ruffin prayed, and Town Recorder Diana Campbell called roll, the minutes of the regular meeting on April 8 and the special meeting on April 17 were approved. No mention was made on the purpose of the Special Meeting.

There were two resolutions presented at the meeting. The first was a Resolution Authorizing the Mayor of the Town of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, to renew the lease agreement with the Hamilton County Board of Education for the Signal Mountain Elementary School for an Additional Three-Year Period commencing on August 1, 2002, through July 31, 2005. According Town Attorney, Phil Noblett, this lease agreement has the same terms as the previous agreement. The Resolution passed unanimously.

The second resolution presented was a Resolution Authorizing Members to the Health, Educational and Housing Facility Board. This board was formed in 1982 as a funding board to make sure Alexian Brothers of Tennessee meets its bonded indebtedness, which it is obligated to do. As a non-profit organization, the State of Tennessee required them to go through the Town of Signal Mountain when securing financing. The board meets once a year. The terms of three members has expired. Two will renew their membership and one new member, Debbie Trumpeter, was appointed. This Resolution also passed unanimously.

During the citizens’ and others’ opportunity to address the Council, Mr. Tim Thelen requested the Town to abandon the road right-a-way on a lot he owns in St. Ives. The purpose of his request was to be able to stop four-wheel drivers from coming onto his property, which is adjacent to Hamilton County property. Mayor Althaus pointed out that the Town does not like to give up property, but that Mr. Thelen needed to talk with Town Manager Hershel Dick to see if the Town could not come up with some way to help him with his problem and then if that didn’t work, he would have to then take his proposal to the Planning Commission for approval. Mayor Althaus pointed out that he should have gone to them first anyway, but Mr. Thelen said that he had been told to come to the Town Council meeting. It was unclear who had given him the wrong information.

Tom Wicks, owner of Joshua’s Landscaping requested the abandonment of fee to use the transfer station and recycle center with his business. Currently, Mr. Wicks along with other contractors is allowed to dump material at the transfer station for a $25 fee. Councilmember Billy Steele felt that paying the $25 fee was just part of doing business. Councilmember Steve Ruffin agreed but noted that a comment by resident Joe Dumas about a point Mr. Wicks made about what he’s dumping (bio-degradable materials vs. degradable materials) should be taken under consideration, and that either the people dumping natural recyclable material should be given a discount or contractors should have their fees increased. Councilmember Rachel Bryant pointed out that if Mr. Wicks is charging $65 to haul the material off the mountain and would only be charged $25 to do it on the mountain, then it was pretty much a "no brainer". She felt that his customers would understand and appreciate the lower cost to haul the material off. Mayor Althaus agreed that it was legal for Mr. Wicks to dump material at the transfer station but felt he would not be a good citizen in doing so as the transfer station is about to bust because it is too full. Unfortunately, this discussion led to the opening of a can of worms on many levels. Among other things brought to light was the mismanagement of the transfer station, private businesses getting garbage pick-up by the Town without authorization, and landscaping businesses on the mountain leaving the materials on the street instead of hauling it off. The Council agreed by general consent to not waive Mr. Wick’s fees. They also asked Town Manager, Hershel Dick to look into the issues addressed during the discussion.

Lou Oliphant, Secretary of the Planning Commission, reported that they did not meet in April so she had nothing to report, however, they were planning to meet in May. When asked how the zoning ordinance was going, Lou said they are waiting for member, Brendin Olin who is going through it with a fine-tooth comb. Town Attorney, Phil Noblett asked if it would be on a computer disc when finished and Lou assured him it probably would be.

Under new business, Councilmember Rachel Bryant asked what the status of the sewer proposals were and Hershel Dick responded that they were going well but had nothing to report. If the Town does contract with one of the companies or the City of Chattanooga, then it will not impact our budget in a negative way. She also reported that Chad Sullivan, a Chattanooga City Policeman asked her to publicly thank the Signal Mountain Police for attending the funeral of Officer Julie Jacks who died in the line of duty recently. Hershel Dick pointed out that they also covered for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department in the Town of Walden during the service.

Councilmember Billy Steele asked Diana Campbell for a simple bottom-line summary sheet of the current budget before the work session on May 25.

Mayor Althaus complimented the many people who work for the Town of Signal but wanted to especially thank the police and fire departments for their assistant in the census follow-up the Town of Signal Mountain participated in. After the formal census, a card was mailed to each residence within the Town, however, close to 280 cards were not returned, for whatever reason. Members of the police and fire departments went door to door to reach each of these 280 residents. Doing so increased the Town’s revenue by $1,000 a person, which amounts to $280,000 in revenue sharing over the next ten years.

The meeting adjourned about 8:15 PM

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