Soddy Daisy Finances In Good Shape; City May Go After Derelict Property Owners

Friday, December 7, 2012

The 2011-2012 audit report for the city of Soddy Daisy was presented at the commission meeting Thursday night by CPA Brian Wright showing that the general fund ended with a $782,630. surplus - a positive swing of nearly $1 million from the previous year. The year also ended with a surplus of $12,073 in the drug fund. Everything looks really good, said Mr. Wright and overall, the city is in good shape.

An ordinance adopting an amended budget for 2012-2013 was approved on second and final reading. City Manager Hardie Stulce explained the change occurred because additional money in the form of grants had been received since the original budget was voted on, and that money needed to be added.

The city received a block grant for expansion of the sewer line to the end of Durham Street. The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) will administer the grant and will assume ownership once it is completed. Upon recommendation of City Attorney Sam Elliott, the resolution passed unanimously.

Bids came in higher than the original estimates to do this sewer work, increasing the local match $85,000 for a total match of $121,000. WWTA has agreed to pick up the difference so the cost to the city will not increase. Mr. Stulce told the commissioners that the city will have received $534,600 for the project. He noted this is a significant amount and that Soddy Daisy is fortunate to have been given it.

The city manager asked for and received approval to purchase city vehicles that were budgeted items. Charlie Rogers Ford in Dayton submitted the lowest bid to supply the city with seven Ford police interceptors for a total cost of $162,765.Truckers Lighthouse in Nashville won the bid to outfit these vehicles with the police equipment packages. The cost for outfitting the seven cars is $19,486. The total cost of these vehicles will come in under the amount allowed for them in the budget.

The purchase of three trucks for the Public Works department was also approved. Ford of Murfreesboro presented the lowest bid for these vehicles at a cost of $74,475. This amount is also slightly under budget.

The city manager then told the commissioners that he needed their guidance about a matching state grant to be used on property at Holly Park. The lease agreement with TVA for this land is in effect for the next 10 years. Soddy Daisy has been awarded a matching grant of $186,000 for use on this property, but the state of Tennessee is requiring a lease agreement of 25 years to be in effect in order for the city to receive the funds.TVA requires a $5,000 fee for the application to renegotiate an extended lease.

Mr. Stulce told the board that under the remaining years of the present lease, Soddy Daisy can make any improvements at its own expense. It will be a “dice roll” to renegotiate with TVA since there is a chance they may require new studies and additional fees and expenses besides the application fee. Commissioner Jim Adams made a motion to pay TVA the $5,000 application fee which hopefully will lead to a new 25-year lease in the attempt to receive the $186,000 state grant. The motion passed unanimously.

In reports from individual board members, Commissioner Adams said that he had received many questions from newly annexed property owners concerning when they will begin to receive city services. Mr. Stulce answered that the standard services package would begin for these new residents on Dec. 16.

Another issue brought up by Commissioner Adams started a discussion of how to clean up the city. He told the board that sub-standard properties were the main issue that people talked about to him. A group of rental duplexes located at Soddy Terrace and Dayton Pike are a mess, he said. There is an area of trees that is littered with old mattresses, tires and broken chairs among other trash. He questioned if the city could require the duplexes to get a dumpster, and asked if this area could be considered a business since the buildings are clustered.

Earlier in the year, Soddy Daisy made the determination that no garbage service would be provided to commercial property, and owners of those businesses would have to contract with a garbage service individually. Most duplexes in the city are on individual lots and so are considered a residential property to which garbage service is provided. The transient residents of the area under discussion “have no value systems,” said Mr. Adams, so the property owners should be responsible for the upkeep of their property.

Mr. Stulce commented that Soddy Daisy has so much “sub-standard stuff” including houses and businesses and that it is one of the only communities that allow those conditions. He feels the commission is too lenient and gives property owners a chance to bring their properties up to code, but that these people have no intention of doing so. He said a policy should be put in place that is black and white, and that one full-time person would likely need to be dedicated to enforcing codes. The process now is too involved.

The question then was posed, as to the procedure to condemn and order a building be destroyed. Attorney Elliott answered that the city uses the standard ordinance authorized by Tennessee state law. He explained that a property owner must be given the due process of law in order to take their building, however there may be the possibility or implementing large fines which might be effective. Another suggestion from Attorney Elliott was to establish a separate board to hear code violations.

The city manager told commissioners that the police chief has started a survey of the city and has been finding that deplorable conditions coincide directly with crime. The majority of these problems occur in substandard rental housing. He said that the survey so far shows that 98 percent of the streets in Soddy Daisy have a non-compliant house or building on them such as very old non-functional vehicles, or partially collapsed houses.

Attorney Elliot said he will study the matter and be able to give the commissioners a range of possibilities as to how to handle this problem sometime in January. Commissioner Rick Nunley said that at the first meeting in January the board is scheduled to hear about three problem properties so that a procedure needs to be established to deal with them.

In the presentation portion of the Thursday night meeting, Robert Cothran representing Vietnam Veterans of America presented the Soddy Daisy Firefighters Association a check for $2,500.

Mayor Janice Cagle announced that the regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 20 has been cancelled. The next meeting of the Soddy Daisy Commission will be Jan. 3, 2013.

gailaperry@comcast.net


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