Money to replace equipment for the Lookout Mountain, Tn. fire department, is not included in the current budget but is available, said Dwight Montague, town consultant. At the Monday evening commission meeting, Ernie Minges, commissioner of Fire and Police, and Chief Randy Bowden told the board that air cylinders and air packs which make up breathing systems used by the fire department, will soon be out of date. In order to stay compliant with OSHA requirements, these need to be replaced.
“We knew it was coming,” said Chief Bowden, but last year it was put off in deference to buying equipment needed by the Public Works department. The cost of the air bottles is $5,408, which will be good for10 years. Replacement of the air packs, which have a 15-year life expectancy, will cost $28,000.
Also, the commissioners approved spending $22,490 for a new air compressor which is used to refill the canisters. Mr. Montague told the commissioners there is no reason to delay the purchase until the next budget. This new equipment will ensure that the town maintains a rating of 4, which keeps insurance premiums down.
Statistics from the police/fire departments prepared by Chief Bowden show 79 police calls, 4138 miles patrolled, 46 burglar alarms (all false), seven assist citizen calls, 10 calls to “911,” no auto accidents, 39 traffic stops with 23 citations issued, and one theft. There were 15 medical calls and six fire alarms which were all false.
Commissioner Minges asked those present to spread the word about the U.S. Professional Road and Time Trial Championship qualifying event for the Olympic bike team. It will take place Memorial Day causing rolling road closures from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. as the cyclists make the laps through the U.T.C. campus, crossing the river and up and down Lookout Mountain. The women competitors will complete the course twice and the men four times.
The route will be up Ochs Highway, continuing on South Forrest, then down the mountain on Scenic Highway. Each road delay is expected to be 20-25 minutes. Traffic will be routed one-way up and down the mountain all day the day of the race. Time trials will be this Saturday. Expect riders to be training next week, said Mr. Minges when asking for residents to be mindful of the bikers and to be patient and careful.
The fire and police commissioner also said he had heard complaints about dogs running loose. He wanted to remind residents that owners are responsible and liable for their dogs. The new auto decals need to be purchased before June when the price will double. He also said that with pedestrians out in force, drivers and walkers should be mindful of each other.
Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds Joe Hailey announced that Commons Camp will start June 3 and continue for seven weeks ending July 19. An update on the tennis court project was given. From coring at the site, engineers will develop the work plan and create a written proposal. Bids are expected to be let in early July. Work will be scheduled after Commons Camp is over.
School will be out in six days, said Don Stinnett, commissioner of schools. Next Monday is Field Day, Tuesday is Awards Day and Wednesday is Graduation and the last day of school. Report cards will be given out from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Friday.
Mr. Stinnett said, “We have an extraordinary school. To keep it that way, we provide for the extras and that makes the community better.” He pleaded for everyone to consider contributing to the annual fund campaign requests. “It is vitally needed,” he said. The money contributed by the town and by the PTA funds seven to nine positions and provides for P.E., art and music beyond what other Hamilton County schools have.
The public works department plans to start repairing potholes next week, said Commissioner of Public Works Walker Jones. He reported that a leak in the fountain is currently being repaired. Because it was an extremely rainy weekend the last time the dumpster was on the mountain, the town has planned to bring it back earlier than previously scheduled. It will be available again on June 1.
Mr. Jones also asked for anyone that is aware of kudzu to call the public works department and let them know since this is the best time of the year to spray for it. He also noted that the sidewalk along Scenic Highway should be completed in the next few months.
In the financial report, Mr. Montague said that property tax revenue is ahead of last year because of the tax increases that were implemented. Out of the $1,742,000 budgeted to come in, $75,500 is outstanding. That money due has a penalty rate of 18 percent interest. The PTA payment to the town of $50,000 is expected in June, and the contribution of $23,000 from Lookout Mountain, Ga. has been made for the community wide use of the playground.
The towns of Lookout Mountain, Tn. and Lookout Mountain, Ga. have been working on a new community marketing website. Website developers are in the process of being interviewed. How to handle the finances of the joint project has yet to be decided. Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham suggested using students from Chattanooga State for this venture. He said they created a new website for the county in return for school credit.
Commissioner Graham came to the meeting to honor Mayor Carol Mutter for being named a 2013 Woman of Distinction for her achievements and leadership and giving back to the community. Ms. Mutter is the first female mayor of Lookout Mountain, Tn.
The paving fund currently contains a $183,000 balance. The cost for repaving is $33 per linear foot. Corey Evans, director of public works, will measure roads around Point Park that need to be paved to determine the total estimated cost. The Beautification Fund holds $6,200 remaining from money given the town by past County Commissioner Richard Casavant. Garbage cans around Point Park and signage around the town both need attention, it was noted.
The first draft of a budget for 2014 has been prepared by Mr. Montague and given to the commissioners for review. The first reading will be held at the regularly scheduled June commission meeting. The meeting in July will be held the fourth Tuesday of the month so the Hall Tax amount will be known before the second reading and adoption of the new budget.
In new business and citizen participation, commissioners approved a variance request by Matt McLelland to build a new attached garage for his home at 508 Scenic Highway.
The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. commission will be Tuesday, June 11, at 5 p.m.