Collegedale To Raise Court Fees; Applies For Energy Grant

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - by Gail Perry

Collegedale city commissioners heard a request from Court Clerk Koren Sapp on Monday evening for proposals concerning court fines. In addition to raising court costs, a recommendation was made to add a technical fee of $15 for each case. The purpose of this additional charge would be to fund the acquisition of new, up-to-date software that would create efficiency. The city of Soddy Daisy has had good results using this program, she said. It would replace a program currently in use by Collegedale that was created in-house and which was described as having very little tech support and as not being user friendly.

A charge of $15 would be enough to supply the software for both the judicial system and police department, and in the future, any department could be added on. This program also offers tech support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It would be available for either purchase or lease, said Ms. Sapp, and using this software could eliminate adding people to do the same work which would create savings since, unlike personnel, it would require no benefits.

Vice Mayor Tim Johnson commented that if people are charged with this fee, the city needs to follow through and be sure and put the purchase of the software into the next budget. The motion to accept Ms. Sapp’s recommendations passed unanimously.

Building Codes and Safety Officer Andrew Morkert asked the commission to approve an application for an energy grant which would be used to replace the heat and air conditioning units and ductwork in the city hall building and the public library. The seven units at city hall and five now in use at the library range in age from two-10 years.

This would be a 50/50 grant for $150,000 with the city being responsible for $75,000. For the city to spend $75,000, the proposal should show what the savings would be over the next five years, commented the Vice Mayor, adding that he would not feel comfortable voting for spending that much without seeing what the city will recoup. City Manager Ted Rogers told him that by using the SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), there should be a 25-percent improvement, but there would be variables, including the weather.

The vote for approval to make the application passed, since it would provide the city with options. A pre-submittal judgment would be made by April or May, said Mr. Morkert, and then a formal application would be written. The grant would likely be awarded within a year. If it is awarded to the city, it may be possible for the commission to make a decision to not use it, he said, or it would be possible to replace the units in only one of the buildings. There also is the prospect that the old systems could be sold.

Mr. Rogers told the commissioners that he had been analyzing the best procedures for allowing public posting of notices. Currently there are four locations that can be used, and an organization can make use of them all. If each notice is allowed at only two locations, twice as many notices can be put up, he suggested.

Both community-level organizations and club-based organizations make use of public notices. It was recognized that the ability for both categories of organization to do this is important. However, the community organizations gets priority. Mr. Rogers said there may come a time in public health that an outbreak will require notice of immunizations, for example, and if so, other postings may need to be taken down. These organizations generally provide information about vaccinations and health care or animal issues such as rabies clinics. Club-level organizations are predominantly sports leagues. The intent of the policy change proposed by the city manager is to be fair and to accommodate both type organizations. This policy change was approved by all commissioners.

A proposal for Internet Safety use at the Collegedale public library was recommended by Joanne Stanfield, library director, and approved by the commissioners. The prevention of inappropriate use, unauthorized access, and unlawful activity are among the reasons for establishing procedures concerning Internet use at the library. Internet filters and other measures will be in use to protect children from harm as specified by the Children’s Internet Protection Act.

Collegedale’s policy is that a bid request must be advertised at least seven days. The city manager reported to the commissioners that a mistake had taken place where the city did not follow its own policy concerning the purchase of a new police car. Upon recommendation of both Mr. Rogers and City Attorney Sam Elliott, the bid that had been accepted for this vehicle was affirmed to be void and the new policy of advertising for 15 days will be applied to a new bid for this car. The bidding will now close on Feb. 18 in time for the next commission meeting that night.

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