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published on 01/14/2003

Town Council Meets

By staff writer

Seventeen percent of the residents of the Town of Signal Mountain are delinquent in paying their stormwater fees, which were due December 31st. During the Signal Mountain Town Council meeting, Monday, January 13, 2003, Mayor Althaus reminded residents that this is a federally mandated fee, which the town is required to assess and the residents are required to pay. Residents who have not paid the fee are now subject to a 5% penalty in addition to other options the Mayor would like to take.

The regular monthly meeting began with prayer offered by Councilmember Rachel Bryant. Also present at the meeting were Mayor Althaus, Vice-mayor and Councilmember Bill Leonard, Councilmembers Steve Ruffin and Robert White. Town attorney Phil Noblett, town recorder Diana Campbell, and town manager Hershel Dick also responded to roll call.

Minutes for the last regular meeting on December 9 and a special called meeting on December 30 were approved.

Two ordinances were approved after hearing the second reading. The first was the Ordinance Amending Town Code Regarding Alcoholic Beverages. Town attorney Phil Noblett explained that the privilege tax the town is allowed to collect differs according to what the restaurant is selling and how big the restaurant is. If a restaurant applies for the sale of wine for consumption then the annual fee is $120. The state notifies a town that a restaurant has applied for a license and then the town can collect the fee. Only Top of the Mountain Restaurant in the Town of Signal Mountain has applied and in fact paid the $120 annual fee, before even being asked by the Town! Phil also pointed out that restaurants that sell alcohol for consumption are required to charge 15% sales tax on the alcohol and a portion of that tax is returned to the town in which the restaurant resides.

The second ordinance passed at the meeting was the Municipal Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance. Prepared by the State of Tennessee, and asked to be adopted, this ordinance allows residents who live within the town limits and are within the designated flood plain to participate in the national flood insurance program. Only ten homes in the Middle Creek area are affected by this ordinance.
Under citizens opportunity to address the Council, resident Joe Dumas expressed his opinion on the controversy concerning the MEF. The mayor thanked Joe and said the Town is in the beginning stages of reviewing all contributions to charitable organizations.

Another resident, Greg Goodgame, asked the Council to explain the purpose of the called meeting on December 30th. Mayor Althaus then read the minutes of that meeting. The purpose was to approve the refinancing of an outstanding loan of the Water Fund. Because the town was under a time limit, the town recorder, Diana Campbell requested the meeting. She recommended refinancing through TML, which the Council agreed to do.

The Planning Commission met on January 9, 2003. Secretary Lou Oliphant presented the Town Council minutes from that meeting. Officers were elected for 2003 with no changes from 2002. (Editorís note: to view the member list of the Planning Commission, time/date of meetings, and purpose see the New Boards and Commission Manual.) Training by the LPO, for the Planning and Zoning Commissions will be held during regular meetings as required, according to Brian Shults. Lou also presented the Council with the 2002 Annual Report prepared by Jane Wilson.

Mayor Althaus expressed his appreciation to the Planning Commission and Lou for their dedication and service to the Town of Signal Mountain.

Councilmember Robert White reported that he has been attending the weekly department meeting each Monday at 9:00 AM and is tremendously impressed and in awe of the workings of the town departments. He encouraged residents to come to these meetings to see how well organized and how dedicated the department heads are.

Councilmember Rachel Bryant complimented Alex McGann, coach at SMMS, who also works part-time for the SM recreation department for trying to work out a fair solution to the problem (between adults and children), the Town is having on Sundays in the gym. She also noted that while juvenile problems are on the rise within the Town, programs such as D.A.R.E. are an asset to the Town. Everyone is invited to the D.A.R.E. graduation on January 16. (Editorís note: See D.A.R.E. Graduation for details.) Rachel also thanked MACC for their monthly reports detailing their board meetings. She asked about the update on the personnel study the town is planning. Town recorder Diana Campbell and Mayor Althaus both noted that they are in the gathering stage, receiving information and statistics from other towns and updates within departments on current job descriptions. And finally, she asked about the status of sewer situation now that the Town no longer is in charge of it. Hershel Dick responded by saying all is well and that he will be attending the next meeting with the board.

Councilmember Steve Ruffin reported that his questions concerning the sewer update had been answered and that he had nothing else to report.

There were no other reports under new business, however, town manager Hershel Dick joked that he would have to loose 100 lbs after having a stint put in, after being in the hospital with problems with his heart last month. Mayor Althaus expressed the Townís happiness that Hershel is well and on the road to recovery.

The meeting adjourned at 7:45 PM.
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