The East Ridge City Council has gotten 30 new city manager applications, but only three of those vying for the job have the degree required under the city charter.
The council meeting Thursday night was the first since the July 1 deadline to apply for the position. City Attorney Hal North reported that of the new resumes only three have the bachelor of public administration degree specified in the charter. “It almost makes you want to cry” said Mr. North, because most of the other 27 applicants had a higher masters degree in public administration.
The three that did qualify are Andrew Hyatt, currently serving as the city manager of Fairview, Tennessee; Larry Ables, who is a judicial commissioner/magistrate for Hamilton County, and Andrew Ellard, who is acting director of the Department of Federal and State Progress in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Another choice would be simply to keep Interim City Manager Eddie Phillips until the 2014 election when the city charter may change, said Councilman Larry Sewell, who stated, “He’s doing a fine job.” He continued by saying that he did not know why anyone would want to come and relocate their family knowing there may be the possibility that in 18 months, the city would be able to hire someone more qualified.
Mr. North responded that it is no longer the day of long contracts. He said that under the city charter, the city manager serves at the pleasure of the city council, so any city manager’s term could expire with any newly elected city council.
It was decided to proceed with interviews for the three applicants with a series of two rounds of interviews done face-to-face. The city will provide $300 in travel expenses for each meeting. Mr. North will coordinate the time with the candidates and city council members and East Ridge citizens will be invited.
The city is the recipient of three grants which the council voted to accept. The Lyndhurst Foundation is giving East Ridge $82,000 with no matching funds required to build a new canoe launch at Camp Jordan. This will allow a person to put a canoe in at one launch, paddle for two hours and take out at another launch in the same park. It would also provide the city the potential for renting canoes and having guides.
The council also approved a resolution authorizing the city to participate in the TML risk management pool which will give East Ridge $2,000 if the city spends $4,000 for safety equipment. The council also voted to accept a 2013-2014 Aqua-Steam Cleanup grant of $1,000 to equip volunteers and pay for shipping the trash collected in this years’ Tennessee River Rescue at Spring Creek. This event, which uses volunteers to clean up waterways, will take place October 5.
Vietnam Veterans from Tennessee and North Georgia came to the council meeting asking for a location to build a Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. Council members will give land to the group in Camp Jordon. The city is not obligated for anything except providing the space for the memorial. If built, it would become city property, and East Ridge will then become responsible for the upkeep.
The council agreed to waive or reduce a fee to $1 for the Family Fit-Together 5-K walk/run at Camp Jordon. This event will benefit the school system and asks only to use a road and track in the city.
In old business, the second and final reading of the final adjusted budget for the fiscal year 2012-2013 was tabled until the councilmen had more time to review the amended figures. This will adjust the budget to match the actual expenditures made during the year and is required by state law.
A discussion about the swimming pool property that is owned by the city took place at the meeting. City Manager Eddie Phillips said that appraisals are scheduled on the land. This will be to decide if the old pool should be filled in and compacted or be sold as-is to determine which way would yield the highest appraisal. It will also give the cost if the city chooses to have the work done.
Mayor Brent Lambert informed the council that he has been in talks with the local Chamber of Commerce to partner with the city in having a free seminar for citizens who don’t know how to budget their money. Several people on their board are financial planners, he said, and East Ridge could provide the space. With a positive response to this proposal, the mayor said he would continue his talks.
The next East Ridge City Council meeting is scheduled for July 25.