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published on 06/19/2002

Town Council Special Meeting

By staff writer

Town of Signal Mountain Special Meeting; Monday, June 17, 2002, 7:00 PM.

The main purpose of this meeting was to adopt the 2 Budget that passed on the first reading at the regularly scheduled Town Council meeting on June 10th. The meeting began with three members of the Town Council present, Mayor Jim Althaus, Councilmembers Billy Steele and Bob Steel. Councilmember Rachel Bryant came in late and Councilmember Steve Ruffin was out of town. Also present was Town Manager Hershel Dick, Town Attorney Phil Noblett, and Town Recorder Diana Campbell.

The first items on the agenda were the approval of four Resolutions:
A.Resolution authorizing Town Manger to enter into negotiations with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority to join in the Town’s wastewater treatment system to the Authority. This Resolution gives Hershel Dick the authorization to negotiate terms of any acquisition of the Town’s wastewater treatment system, but he has to report all negotiations to the Town Council before the approval of any contracts.
B.Resolution authorizing appointment of a committee to make recommendations for the design and use of the playground area behind the Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club. Scott Cook, head of the Recreation department recommended a committee be appointed which would include Ron Eytchison, Phil Johnson, Debra Blake, Milou Young, and Scott Cook. Mayor Althaus pointed out that the Town Council is not “bound” to the recommendations of this committee but would be grateful for their help. Bo Patten, candidate for Town Council asked if this included the “old” pool and it’s future use. The Mayor said there was no future use of the pool as costs to repair or replace are far to high for the Town to consider, however, the pool area would be included in the entire area the committee would be evaluating.
C.Resolution authorizing the town Manager to accept bids for chlorination of the town Swimming Pool and Sewage Treatment Plant for the Town of Signal Mountain and to award said chlorination contract to the lowest bidder. Hershel Dick, Town Manager, recommended the acceptance of two bids received, one for cylinders of gaseous chlorine from DPC Enterprises for $2,713 and the other from Brenntag Mid-South, Inc. for muriatic acid, presochlor granular, and sodium hypochlorite 12-1/2% for $11,820. The contract for these products will be one year.
D.Resolution authorizing the Town Recorder to advertise a public hearing for stormwater in the local newspaper before the scheduled public hearings on July 8, 2002, and August 12, 2002. The Town Council is required by law to advertise in advance the scheduled public hearings and passing this resolution authorizes Diana Campbell to proceed.

All the Resolutions passed unanimously.

The business in the meeting concerned the second reading of two ordinances that passed on the first reading at the regularly scheduled meeting on June 10th:
A.Second Reading – Ordinance Adopting Amendment to FY 2 Budget Ordinance. Because of refinancing, the 2 Budget needed to be amended.
B.Second Reading – Ordinance Adopting FY 2 Budget and fixing tax rate on Town Property and the time taxes are due and providing for interest and penalties on delinquent taxes and privilege. Passing of this ordinance approves the 2 budget for various departments, agencies, boards, commissions, offices, divisions or branches of Town Government for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2002. (A copy of the 2002-03 Budget is available at the Town Hall.) This ordinance also sets the tax rate at $1.65. (The same as last year’s budget.) The Assessor of Property of Hamilton County makes assessments of property. Taxes are due October 1, 2002 and delinquent on March 1, 2003.

Before voting on the 2 Budget, concerned citizens asked questions. Joe Dumas, candidate for Town Council asked if there were a more detailed budget available for citizens. Mayor Althaus responded that yes there is one in the Town Hall available for view but not published to hand out.

I had several questions for the Town Council which were answered. At the June Town Council meeting, Town Attorney Phil Noblett pointed out that the cost of the Town’s liability insurance would increase because the state raised the limits people can sue. I was assured this increase is reflected in the new budget. I also asked about the request made by John Clark at the April meeting for funds to support the Shackleford Ridge Park. Mayor Althaus responded saying the budget would reflect a gift of $10,000, the same as last year’s gift. The next question I asked concerned the request made by Laura Coughman at the March meeting for funds to support the Signal Mountain Welfare Council. At the time, the Welfare Council was requesting $1,500 to secure a loan on a new building. The Town Council asked them to wait until the next year’s budget at which time more than $1,500 would probably be given. According to Mayor Althaus, $2,500 is in the budget for the Welfare Council (at the loss of public tv station, Channel 5, which will not get the $5,000 budgeted last year but instead will get $2,500. The last question I asked concerned the welfare of the Town drug sniffing dog, Wolf, who according to Councilmember Bob Steel, is aging and will need to be replaced. Mayor Althaus said that money in the “drug fund” which is currently around $17,000 would be used to finance the cost of a new dog if necessary.

Mark Shartle, member of the audience asked why the amount of revenue from one year to the next keeps going down. Mayor Althaus said the main reason is that the interests on invested funds has decreased as have the funds. Mr. Shartle also questioned if the level of expenditures this budget reflects might get us into a trap. To which the Mayor responded that there is an increase in expenses (salaries/medical insurance) but by far the biggest risk factor is the state of Tennessee and what they decide to do with their budget. If the Town does not get any money from the state, 15% of our budget would be affected. This means that funds would have to come from the reserves which the Mayor said there was nothing wrong with eroding the tax surplus. Mr. Shartle expressed concern that the tax increase last year would not be enough to carry us for long. Mayor Althaus agreed, saying that future Councils will not have the luxury of going 21 years without a tax increase, that in fact it will probably have to be increased every 3 to 4 years.

Both of these Ordinances passed.

There was no other business to come before the meeting.

Footnote: When asking questions about the money budgeted for the Signal Mountain Welfare Council, Councilmember Bob Steel asked if I knew who was in charge of setting the prices at the Clothes House. He is concerned that the items are priced too low and said that if they would raise their prices then they wouldn’t have to come to the Council and ask for money. If any one has the answer as to why the items are priced at the amounts given, you can contact Councilmember Steel at .
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