East Ridge Welcomes New City Manager; Settles WWTA Lawsuit; Gravitt To Stay On Council To End Of Term If He Wins State House Race

Friday, November 15, 2013 - by Gail Perry
Judge Arvin Reingold and Rep. Vince Dean honor Mary Lou Whaley
Judge Arvin Reingold and Rep. Vince Dean honor Mary Lou Whaley
- photo by Gail Perry

Mayor Brent Lambert welcomed new City Manager Andrew Hyatt to his first city council meeting with East Ridge Thursday night, saying “We’re glad he’s here and we look forward to a prosperous future.” Mr. Hyatt said he was excited to be here. He told the audience that he hopes to run an efficient government, taking the best practices from other successful cities. He wants East Ridge to serve as a model for other municipalities.

In his first report to the council members, he gave them the appraisal of the old pool property they had requested as being $180,000. He referred to a resolution the council passed in 2010 to create an economic advisory committee, and said he would like to pursue this matter by January. 

Mr. Hyatt also presented the Tennessee Three-Star Award that Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger had bestowed upon East Ridge in recognition of the Governor’s award for performance, accountability and efficiency.

City Attorney Hal North told the board and citizens that were present that the city of East Ridge gave an update on litigation with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) that is contesting the city’s right to charge for street cuts. Currently, East Ridge charges the WWTA $200 for every cut it makes while repairing the sewer system. There also is a requirement that after a certain number of cuts in an area, the street must be repaved. At a meeting Thursday night, council members voted to settle the dispute and accept the terms of an agreement that resulted from mediation.

Among conditions in the settlement, East Ridge will reduce the amount charged for road cuts from $200 to $20 which will cover out of pocket fees. The city will not have to reimburse WWTA for the charges already collected. In the future there will be mutual cooperation in any new road damage, with the WWTA complying with the city codes about road cuts and patching. And, a moratorium on hooking up to the sewer system in East Ridge will be lifted as soon as is reasonably possible. Attorney North recommended a change to the offer of only allowing a right of way on the road to a pumping station at Camp Jordan, which would revert to city ownership if the land is not used by WWTA. The motion to accept the agreement was approved on a vote of three to two with Councilman Denny Manning and Mayor Lambert voting no.

In old business, seven ordinances pertaining to updating city codes were approved on first reading. The council voted to adopt the International Codes pertaining to building, fire and safety, fuel gas, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and property maintenance. The purpose of assuming the revised codes is to protect the citizens by creating standards to meet and oversight to new construction. It was noted that the state would enforce the International Code, even if the city had not voted to accept it.

In new business, the council voted to accept a grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office for $5,000 to purchase motorcycle radar units for the police department. Authorization was given to license the playing of copyrighted music at any event sponsored by the city.

The purchase of a new HVAC unit to replace one that no longer is working at Camp Jordan Arena was approved as was buying a new trailer with five dumpsters and a tarping system. This equipment would be available if a disaster strikes the city again, such as a flood, and for events such as a citywide “clean-up” day. There are also plans to rent individual dumpsters to city residents to help recoup the cost.

Officials not that the city hall was built 23 years ago and still has the original interior paint and carpet. The city council Thursday night approved a contract with Williams Painting Company to re-paint the inside of the building. Of the bid requests sent out by the city, only one was sent back for replacing carpet in the building. Councilman Marc Gravitt requested to re-bid replacement of the carpet hoping to include more businesses in the bidding process.

All contracts made by East Ridge coincide with the fiscal year that starts July 1 with the exception of the concessions contract with Fun Time Foods for events at Camp Jordan, and the photography contract with Colorcraft for sporting events. The council voted to extend the current contracts with these companies for six months, at which time they will be re-bid. This will put the two contracts on the same yearly renewal schedule as all the others.

Interest bearing capital outlay notes will be issued for an amount not to exceed $200,000. Proceeds will be used to purchase police cars and an SUV for the police department.

Concrete work for a canoe launch at Camp Jordan was put out to bid and only one was submitted. It was decided to reject that single proposal and re-bid the project.

In his report, Councilman Gravitt told the council that the city attorney had researched the matter and found that it would be legal to hold a municipal position concurrently with a state position. Mr. Gravitt announced last week that he is planning to run for a seat being vacated by State Rep.Vince Dean who represents East Ridge and District 30 in Nashville. He told the council that if he won that seat, he planned on serving the full four year city council term that he was elected to, but that he would not re-run.  

Rep. Dean came to the meeting Thursday night along with Judge Arvin Reingold, to present a proclamation for 32 years of service as court clerk for East Ridge, to Mary Lou Whaley. And an award from the city was given by Mayor Brent Lambert.

A vote to cancel the Dec. 26 city council meeting was unanimous.

A presentation was made to the city council members by Jeff Broughton, management consultant with the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Services (MTAS). East Ridge is one of three cities in the state that has qualified to participate in a state program known as the Review of Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act. It is an opportunity to create a commercial development using money derived from state income taxes. He said that 75 percent of all state sales tax would be returned to reimburse the city for eligible costs. In turn, the development will generate a tax base as well as jobs. 

City Manager Andrew Hyatt
City Manager Andrew Hyatt
- Photo2 by Gail Perry

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