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published on 08/15/2006

Town Council Meets

By staff writer

The regular meeting of the Town of Signal Mountain Town Council met, Monday, August 14, 2006 in the Town Hall. Mayor Bill Leonard was absent due to the passing of his father. Vice-mayor Steve Ruffin presided over the meeting beginning with offering condolences to Mayor Leonard and his family. Also present were Councilmembers Bob Linehart, Lizetta Paturlaski, and Robert White. The town attorney Phil Noblett, town manager Diana Campbell, town recorder Sherry Morrison, and Police Chief/Assistant town manager Bo Veal were also present. In addition the room which seats on average 100 people was filled to capacity with people sitting on the floor, over-flowing back into the hallway and outside the glass door to the lawn. At times the noise from the hallway and outside was so loud, people inside could not hear the precedings.

After the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag led by the vice mayor, Councilmember Linehart offered the opening prayer. Minutes to three previous meetings were approved.

Because of the expected lengthy meeting, the vice-mayor changed the order of business as listed in the agenda to allow Dee Dee Raulston, chairman of the Town of Signal Mountain Library Board to address the Council. Mrs. Raulston presented a letter to the Council detailing concerns the Library Board has as a result of the previous librarian vacating her position. They requested the hiring of a new librarian be done as quickly as possible as they have moved far beyond the scope of staffing the library with volunteers. Another major concern, which they are requesting is that donations and gifts made to the library as well as fundraisers by the Friends of the Library not be considered free funds to simply be added into the town’s general fund. According to Mrs. Raulston, “Doing so penalizes the Library’s funding formula by the Town.”

There were two resolutions approved both requesting the Planning Commission to study and issue a written report of planned services to Fox Run and Windtree subdivisions which is the first step in annexing both these subdivisions into the Town of Signal Mountain limits.

At 7:20 PM, Vice-mayor Ruffin suspended the regular meeting and opened the Public Hearing regarding Shackleford Ridge Overlay Zoning Amendments and another energetic discussion followed when twenty-one citizens addressed the Council and audience.

A little after 9:00 PM, the Public Hearing was closed and the regular meeting resumed at which time the Council voted on the ordinances presented with all passing three-one. Attorney Phil Noblett pointed out before the vote that significant changes had been made on each ordinance, as a direct result of concerns of citizens and that in most cases each was almost identical to what the current zoning ordinances allow and in one case, was more restrictive than what is currently allowed.

In other business three ordinances were approved on first reading. The first establishes and amends a property tax levy on all taxable property in the Town of Signal Mountain to provide revenue to pay for the bond for the construction for the new middle/high school. The projected revenue for the $.35 is $592,700. The second ordinance establishes a rate schedule for the water rates within the Town. The town manager stated, “This rate increase is a direct result of Tennessee American Water increasing their rates therefore requiring the Town to increase its rates.” The third and final ordinance came at the request of Police Chief Boyd Veal. The speed limit on Timberlinks Drive is 30 mph. The speed limit on Shackleford Ridge Road is also 30 mph. But Timberlinks Drive becomes Edwards Point Road as one passes Middle Creek Road, where the speed limit is 25 mph. Changing the name of that portion of the road to Timberlinks Drive keeps the speed limit consistent. Residents on that portion of the road are in agreement, according to the town manager.

Under opportunity to address the council, resident Leanne Dolan thanked the Council and town employees for responding to her concern last year with traffic problems related to the school zones at Thrasher Elementary on James Boulevard. She was pleased and satisfied with the results noting that what she thought was going to be a simple solution turned into a big deal and she was impressed at how well it was handled. Jeff Holland asked a question concerning tie-on fees to the new sewer line to which the town attorney reminded him that his question should be directed to the Hamilton County Waste Water Authority as they make those decisions.

Councilmember Paturlaski made the motion that the Town designate the funds received on the ½ cent sales tax to continue as in previous years to go toward the new school on Signal Mountain. This sales tax is a direct result of the 1999 referendum passed by the citizens to help pay for the new school. In 2004, a countywide tax was implemented cutting the portion that goes toward the new school to ¼ cent. To date the sales tax has resulted in funds of $81,566.05, which has earned $31,083.01 in interest. Councilmember Linehart pointed out that these funds would be used to lower the bond secured to pay for the new school.

Councilmember White recognized former town manager Hershel Dick; thanked Diana Campbell and her staff; and recognized Chief Veal thanking him and the police, fire and emergency personnel who responded quickly and efficiently to a recent injury his son obtained. Attorney Phil Noblett responded to a concern issued earlier suggesting the town issue impact fees on the developers to pay for the sewers. According to Mr. Noblett, “The State of Tennessee does not at this time recognize impact fees for developers.”

For those who remained until the end of the meeting, which was about 2/3rds of the room a final request by the town manager brought cheers to the room. Employees of the Town of Signal Mountain have asked the town manager for permission to give their personal “leave time” to another long-time employee who is ill and nursing his wife who is also ill. This employee has run out of leave time. By general consent this request was granted by the entire Town Council.

The meeting ended at 10:02.
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