Lookout Mountain, Tn., "Very Strong Financially," Audit Report Shows; $73,000 In Donations Received For Mountain Security System

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - by Gail Perry

“It is great to have a report like this,” CPA Paul Johnson, told the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commissioners Tuesday night. Referring to the audit report for 2013, he said the town is “very strong financially.” The town has no debt and is able to buy equipment when needed without borrowing money. Last year ended with a good surplus, and the audit showed no problems with accounting.

In the monthly financial report, Town Consultant Dwight Montague asked the commissioners to approve additional money for the purchase of a new dump truck. The best price that has been found is $46,500 and exceeds the amount budgeted for the vehicle by $1,500. The increase was approved unanimously.

The Lookout Mountain security project is being put together by both Lookout Mountain, Tennessee and Georgia after an unusual number of burglaries several months ago. This is a community-wide plan, but Lookout Mountain, Tn. is handling the money, said Mr. Montague. Donations of $73,000 have been contributed from over 200 people, said Mayor Carol Mutter. Any amount received over the cost will be put into a restricted fund for maintenance or upgrades to the system.

The equipment will be installed at six locations on both sides of the mountain. The mayor stressed that cameras would be used strictly for criminal activity, and not for traffic enforcement or for tracking people. The first payment for construction and ordering equipment has been made.

The Tennessee town is also handling funding for the Lookout Mountain Promotion Fund, another community project. Up to this point the venture has not progressed as fast as was anticipated, but is now on track to move forward, Mr. Montague told the commissioners. 

Lookout Mountain School has received a gift of 12 new desktop computers from Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham, who provided money for the purchase from his discretionary fund. “You’ve been a real friend to Lookout Mountain,” Commissioner of Schools, Don Stinnett said to Mr. Graham. Principal Ruth White added her thanks to Mr. Graham as well as to each of the commissioners, saying this is an “extraordinary community” because of their involvement and interest in the school.

The most recent award earned by LMS was taking first place in the state of Tennessee for “Innovative Solution” in a statewide competition. The challenge was to create a solution that would help people prepare and stay safe in the event that a natural disaster occurs. The project coaches were teachers Bryan Mann and D’Arcy Hughes and parent volunteer Robin Moldenhauer. Four student participants, Will Moldenhauer, Lila Fritschen, Blake Hopper and Jonas Mull, told the commissioners about creating their winning project that used a watch that would have features to help protect people from a tornado.

In other school news, Commissioner Stinnett noted that winter break starts Dec. 19. Basketball will begin after Christmas, the spelling bee is Jan. 15 and the book fair is scheduled for Jan. 27. “Night Out for Lookout”, the annual fundraiser for the school, will be at the Fairyland Club on March 1.

Ernie Minges, commissioner of fire and police, read department statistics from November compiled by Chief Randy Bowden. The police department had 70 calls and patrolled 3,078 miles. There were 26 burglar alarms, all false, four assist citizen calls, 11 “911” calls, no auto accidents and eight traffic stops. There were two thefts and no burglaries. Five medical calls were made in Tennessee and five in Georgia during the month. The fire department responded to five alarms which were all false.

Commissioner Minges asked for special consideration for Police Sergeant Tim Guinn who has worked for the town 12 years. He has been undergoing medical treatments and has no medical leave time remaining. The commissioners approved an extension of his pay for another month by a unanimous vote.

Mr. Minges ended his report asking for speed limits and stop signs to be observed, for Mountain stickers to be removed from vehicles if they are sold, and for cars and walkers to be aware of one another. He also advised that residents notify the police department when out of town, so extra checks can be made on the house. He also requested for everyone to be sure car lights are turned on when driving in foggy and rainy weather.

Joe Hailey, commissioner of parks and playgrounds, reported that the tennis court project is officially out for bid. Bids will be accepted Jan. 9 at 2 p.m. in the commission room at city hall. For anyone interested in doing the work, he said CTI Engineering, through Greg Wilson, can provide a set of plans, and that there is a mandatory pre-bid meeting for those who want to submit one.  

Mr. Hailey also told the commissioners that “safe routes to school grants” are being made available from the federal government for building sidewalks around schools to encourage children to walk. Because there is little time to fulfill all the requirements for obtaining the grant, the town is planning to hold off applying until next year when it can be more prepared.

Commissioner of Public Works Walker Jones asked for patience with his department in picking up leaves because they are wet. He said that cleaning them up should be done in a few weeks. Building of the sidewalk to the Georgia state line has also been affected by the weather. That work will be completed when the weather cooperates. He said the town has plenty of salt available to use in the event of icy streets this winter.

On second reading, a new ordinance which modifies the town’s rules pertaining to cell phone towers was passed. This measure will allow new towers to be built on municipal property in order to improve wireless data transmission. It is expected that one or two towers will be constructed near the maintenance building.

An ordinance that will put the town in compliance with Supreme Court requirements was also approved on second reading. Anyone seeking to discuss religious or political ideas cannot be required to register with the town. However, a permit will be needed for anyone going door-to-door for commercial or fundraising purposes.  Town residents can pick up a blue decal to display which indicates that no solicitations can be made at the location where they are placed. 

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