East Ridge Council members indicated Thursday they plan to vote at the next two meetings to not charge a $180 per year garbage fee to those with landlocked parcels and to only charge 25 percent of the full charge to those with vacant lots that have access.
That appeared to be the sentiment though City Manager Tim Gobble said it would mean a loss of $150,000 to $200,000 in income and put the city close to not covering its annual $1.4 million cost for sanitation.
The council again heard from several citizens upset about getting the new fee on top of the recently-received county property tax notices.
It was decided to do the billing that way after Tennessee American Water Company refused to continue to put the garbage fee on the monthly water bill.
Mr. Gobble noted that the city is already losing some income because it now only gets one fee per parcels. He said it formerly collected three times on a parcel in case of a tri-plex and more than that on apartments.
He said owners of the vacant lots benefit from getting their brush picked up. That, he said, "keeps junk from piling up and rats from running around in East Ridge."
Councilman Jim Bethune said one factor in the city's favor is that some residents on the Georgia line are residents in Harris Hills.
East Ridge citizens with vacant lots were advised to hold off on paying their property taxes for now until the situation is worked out - or they could pay the property tax part and the garbage fee (if any) later. The second reading would be on Nov. 8.
It was unclear whether the trustee's office would send out replacement tax bills for those getting the garbage breaks.
In another matter, Mr. Gobble said the old McBrien Elementary School was flooded during a recent downpour. He said the water ruined a new carpet that had been put in an area planned for indoor batting cages.
He said the carpeting had been placed on an asbestos floor that had been encapsulated. He said the carpet will have to be pulled up and that may disturb the asbestos.
It was decided to pay to have asbestos removed from that area of the school at a cost under $10,000. The city will get a permit for removal of asbestos from the entire school at a cost that might be in the $70,000 range. The council will decide at an upcoming meeting whether to do all the asbestos removal at one time as recommended by Councilman Darwin Branam.
A variety of uses are planned for the school, including space for police operations and for meetings of community groups.
Stump Martin, city recreation director, said a variety of groups plan to use the batting cage area, including 12 select teams who are paying $800 each. They want to start using it starting next Monday.
Work has started on a canoe launch at Camp Jordan and it should be ready in a couple of weeks.
Mr. Gobble said it will be one of several along the "blueway" stretching toward Chickamauga Park in one direction and the Tennessee River at the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek at the other.