The Civilian Medal of Appreciation from the American police academy was awarded to Yameli Gomez on Monday night at the Collegedale Commission meeting. Assistant Police Chief James Hardeman and Detective Jamie Heath presented the tribute to the 18-year-old Collegedale Academy student for her “invaluable service in assisting the police department” in locating her aunt who had been violently kidnapped from the parking lot of Angelica Textile Services where she worked.
The event occurred in 2010 when Ms. Gomez was 15. For days following the event, she became the translator and spokesperson for the family. During the investigation she answered phone calls and kept the lines open long enough for the FBI and police in Hattiesburg, Miss., to track the GPS of the cell phone being used, which led them to her aunt and the kidnapper. Nine days later the captor, who was the estranged husband, was arrested. This is only the second time that award has been given by Collegedale.
In regular business, the commissioners approved, on second and final reading, an ordinance to amend commercial and multi-family residential standards for the city. Also, a rezoning request for 1.5 acres on Apison Pike from Agricultural to C-2 commercial zoning was passed on first reading.
City Manager Ted Rogers gave the financial report, saying that 29 percent of the expected revenue has been received to date which is on average for other years. Several expenditures that are customarily done toward the end of a year were instead performed at the beginning of this fiscal year which make expenses seem a bit high. Paving work done by the Public Works Department, and $160,000 used to purchase a new garbage truck show up on the report. Also, said Mr. Rogers, some reserve police officers have made up for a shortage of officers in the department and the costs of doing so will need to be shifted in the budget.
The city manager reported that Collegedale has $2.4 million in cash accounts and $1.7 million in the contingency account which provides for unexpected expenditures, and around $150,000 in the capital outlay account.
He also told the commissioners that since interest rates are at record lows, the city has refinanced the capital outlay fund as well as a $2 million bond. Now all the city’s debt is invested in fixed rate accounts at or below three percent, which is locked in for a 12-year term he said.
Commissioner Larry Hanson addressed issues raised at a recent meeting he attended in Cleveland. The first was to encourage commissioners to let state legislators know the importance of the Hall Income Tax to the city. The current thinking, he said, is that the Hall tax would be going away. Mr. Rogers agreed with that sentiment saying it is his understanding that is a goal of Governor Bill Haslam. He explained it is difficult to predict the amount of income to expect from that tax since it is based on interest on dividends from investments. In the past, the city has received anywhere from $30,000 to $500,000.
Concerning grants that are available to cities, Mr. Rogers told Commissioner Hanson that currently, Collegedale has no participation in Community Development Block Grants, but is planning to apply for a new Parks and Recreation Grant to begin a new project.
Commissioner Hanson also questioned what the city’s policy is regarding the determination of legal residency during a traffic stop. Police Chief Brian Hickman answered that officers make no stops to ascertain legal status, but, if an arrest is made during a stop, the person is taken to the Hamilton County and at that time a check is done.
In the segment of the commission meeting devoted to citizen comments, one resident asked if there would be an extension of the greenway in the city. He asked the commissioners to consider expanding it to join three additional neighborhoods, Wellesley, Downing Green and Chestnut Cove, encompassing 245 families. This would require extension of the sidewalk of only seven eights of a mile, and could use existing sidewalks from each development to join to the new one.
Mayor John Turner answered that there are no firm plans to expand the greenway, but he said there is a commission retreat in January and that topic will be discussed. He further explained that Collegedale’s greenway system was built using grant money from TDOT’s alternative transportation program.