As a city commissioner, I feel that it is time to address the negative comments concerning myself and the tax increase of 2011. Let me start with an issue that I was involved in that at the time was not popular but led to growth in our city. Which I feel that the tax increase of 2011 will also do.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s I pushed for sewers and was part of the first sewer systems installed in Soddy Daisy. That sewer kept Bi-Lo and Walmart (at that time) in business.
The state of Tennessee was about to shut the stores down due to wastewater standing behind the buildings. Keeping the businesses there led to growth in that area - Pizza Hut, KFC, car wash, etc…
At that time the main lines were installed and were able to accommodate the new Walmart site that eventually brought in restaurants and other businesses to that area. During that time we were able to add sewers throughout the Daisy area to residents and businesses throughout the Pottery Lane and Igou Ferry Road area, all done without a tax increase.
I have voted 15 times for no tax increases during my time of service, however, at this time there was no choice for the city and the tax increase was voted on with a unanimous vote of 5-0. In the past there were times our city mangers may not have applied for grants for our city because the city would not have had the money for the match. We would lose millions of dollars in free money. At this time we could apply for those grants and have several projects underway. We needed to widen and get traffic problems corrected in the Walmart/Harrison Lane area, which would extend from Daisy Church of God to the Veterans Park. This will bring new businesses to that area. This project is an 80/20 grant from the state of Tennessee. Montlake Road paving also has a grant that will require a match from the city. The Holly Park project is also funded by a state grant with a match from the city. This project will give more boat launching, canoe launching, nature trails and pavilions for our citizens to enjoy. Also, $180,000 is being used to install new lights at the north end park where the power poles had deteriorated and become dangerous for the people in the park. This park is where the children play ball for the Soddy Daisy Kids Club and is used by many people year around. This is one of the few things we offer our children in this community and we all, as parents and grandparents, enjoy this park as well as the kids. Just look at all the state championships that have come from our area schools…we have to provide a safe place for the children to enjoy while playing the sports that they love.
Also we have to conform to government standards and keep our equipment up to date for the fire and police, for their safety as well as ours. We maintain and buy new equipment to operate our public works that provides brush pickup, sparkle day and to keep our city clean while maintaining their daily job duties. After all those needs are met, there has to be a reserve fund in place in the event of a disaster such as a tornado, ice storm, snow storm, etc. Ultimately, your city is responsible to keep your streets clear and provide citizens access to your home or driveway during these disasters.
Also, in response to the pay increases…the city employees had been overlooked since 2005, which at that time they received a $500 bonus. Then later they received a 50-cent across the board increase. This year we gave our employees a five percent increase to bring them up to date with other cities of our size. We are very fortunate to have quality employees that care about their jobs and this city.
Commissioners did not receive pay until 2010, when, due to an issue out of our control, we were advised to take the pay going forward. This year I had a resolution drawn up to stop any pay for commissioners, and I stand firm on that. No commissioner should be paid as long as we have a volunteer fire department. Citizens of Soddy Daisy live in a debt-free city, with a balanced budget, and the above-mentioned projects funded with grants from the state of Tennessee (with a match from Soddy Daisy). At the end of the fiscal year, July 1st, we should have $1.5 million in the reserve fund.
Now let’s continue to move forward in Soddy Daisy and not hit a dead end. I want to say thank you to every commissioner who has served this city in the 43 years, for all your hard work to get the city of Soddy Daisy to this point.
Commissioner Gene-O Shipley