Lookout Mountain, Tn., Ends Fiscal Year With $216,195 Surplus; Town Looking At Expanding Cell Phone Antennas Beyond The Water Tower

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - by Gail Perry

Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, ended the fiscal year June 30 with a surplus of $216,195, commissioners were told Tuesday night.

Town Consultant Dwight Montague also presented the budget for fiscal year 2014 which was passed on second reading. Total revenue is projected to be $3,209,967 and, with the carryover fund balance of $2,263,399 from the fiscal year just ended, the city is in good financial shape having a total of $5,473,366 available in the general fund, he said.

The town will receive $660,686 from the Hall income tax, which is based primarily on stock dividends. Property taxes are projected to produce $1,725,000.The county re-appraisal of real estate showed an average reduction of 1.85 percent. The property tax rate was increased from 1.62 last year, to 1.65 per $100 of assessed value this year because of the reduced assessments, in order to keep the property taxes revenue neutral.

Expenditures from the general fund are anticipated to be $3,334,733. Some planned capital projects include safety equipment and vehicles for the police and fire departments, repairs to the town hall, three trucks and a salt spreader for the public works department, six water fountain replacements, benches and picnic tables for parks and recreation and the replacement of all three tennis courts. Capital expenditures will be significantly more than previous years because of work on the tennis courts.

Another new expense for the town will be the joint website that is now in development for promoting the mountain community. Lookout Mountain, Tn. and Lookout Mountain, Ga. have each put $15,000 into a restricted fund for this project. Tubatomic is the company that has been selected to design the website. It will work in conjunction with Paul Rustand, who specializes in marketing and is helping with branding the community.

The State Street Aid Fund that comes from the state of Tennessee and is restricted to road work contains $240,579 at the beginning of fiscal year 2014. Projected expenditures from the State Street Aid Fund are $165,000. Of this, $155,000 is the estimated cost of repaving and $10,000 will be used to complete the sidewalk along Scenic Highway.

 Ernie Minges, commissioner of fire and police, told the commissioners that he had received a letter from Lookout Mountain, Ga. Chief Todd Gann, praising Police Lieutenant Don Massengale for a job well done when he responded to a medical call on July 8 at Rock City. He said that not only was the patient treated, but the family was also helped.

Commissioner Minges also wanted to remind citizens to walk and drive safely and to keep dogs on a leash. 

Mayor Carol Mutter reminded that a service that the police department offers is to check on homes when a resident is out of town. They can be notified by calling the department to let them know the dates.

The monthly statistics for June from the fire and police department complied by Chief Randy Bowden show 71 police calls, 4,635 miles patrolled, 23 burglar alarms - all false, three assist citizen calls, nine 911 calls, one auto accident, 13 traffic stops, one theft from an automobile and no arrests. Eight medical calls were responded to on the Tennessee side and one mutual aid call in Georgia. There were no fire alarms during June.

Joe Hailey commissioner of parks and playgrounds, reported about modifications that have been made for work on the tennis court project at the commons. A preliminary engineering study had estimated the cost to replace two courts at $200,000. The town applied for and received a 50/50 grant for the work, which left the town responsible for $100,000. Last month an extensive engineering study was performed prior to beginning the actual work and the recommendation was then made to replace all three courts. It was determined that the upper retaining wall needed to be removed for the work, and that would cause damage to the upper court. It is expected that bids will be put out in around six weeks and work would begin in two-three months. Because now three new tennis courts will be built instead of the two that had been planned for, the cost to the town will be $200,000.

Commissioner Hailey also said that Commons Camp is over for the summer and that it was a great success.

Don Stinnett, commissioner of schools, said teachers are beginning to plan for the upcoming school year. Teachers start work on Aug. 2. Students return to the classroom on Aug. 8.

The public works department will begin paving roads around Point Park, said Commissioner of Public Works, Walker Jones. Another project that needs attention is a retaining wall on North Bragg near the Presbyterian Church. The wall is below street level and is beginning to lean. The fear is if it does collapse, the road above it may be damaged. Commissioners were told that an engineer has been asked to look at the damage and advise what needs to be done.

Mr. Montague told the commissioners that over the past couple of years, he has had many requests for cell phone providers to address the issue of dropped calls and dead zones in the town. He has been advised by more than one provider that there has been a massive increase in cell phone usage, tablets and other wireless devices. With many families abandoning land lines and depending only on cell phones, the importance of good cell phone coverage has increased. It is also important for the town’s ability to receive 911 calls, he said.

The current ordinance requires that antennas can only be put on the water tower. The ones in place are no longer adequate to handle the demand. Additionally, there are new FCC regulations that require cellular providers to be allowed to construct equipment necessary for adequate coverage. If the town does not comply, changes could be forced and might reduce the town’s ability to maintain the highest aesthetic qualities.

Town Attorney Brian Smith is researching the requirements and the town’s ordinances to recommend the changes that will be necessary to comply, said Mr. Montague. New technology is available called “stealth facilities” that better blend in with the environment than the old towers, he has been told. After the ordinances are changed, proposals will be received from the service providers on how to implement the needed improvements. This will be followed by a public community meeting for information.

GPS student Hope Newberry is making a gift to the town. She sells books at the Mountain Market and has announced that all profits from her business will be donated to the Lookout Mountain Employees Christmas Funds, Mr. Montague told the commissioners.

Mayor Mutter announced that Wednesday, Aug. 7, will be “Lookout Mountain Night” at the Lookouts game. Fans from both the Tennessee and Georgia sides of the mountain are urged to come and participate in the fun. Mayor Mutter suggested that she may toss the first ball to Lookout Mountain, Georgia Mayor Sandy Gothard who will then throw out the first pitch.

gailaperry@comcast.net













Kristin Taylor, 23, Arrested After Alleged Assault With Broken Glass, Broom

Kristin Taylor, 23, was arrested on Sunday and charged with aggravated domestic assault after she allegedly threatened her sisters and mother with a broken glass shard and a broom. When police responded to the residence on the 8900 block of Afton Lane, they found the victims had locked themselves in a bedroom. Officers spoke with the sisters through a window and were ... (click for more)

Jamichael Harris, Man Charged In 2014 Murder, Granted Permission To Attend Church

More than a dozen family members gathered in court on Wednesday to hear that Jamichael Harris, a man who is on pretrial house arrest for the June, 2014 murder of Inez Burney, will be allowed to attend Trinity Baptist Church on Sundays and Wednesdays while he awaits trial. Judge Steelman previously reduced Harris’ bond on July 1 from $500,000 to $100,000 so that his family ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Is Right On The Muslim Threat - And Response (4)

Sheriff Hammond is exactly correct on the Muslims in Tennessee.  He sees with clear eyes the problem with the Muslims in our state and country.  They do want to take over Tennessee.  Our politicians are selling us down the river and allowing the trouble makers to dig in like tics and suck out the life's blood of our Constitution and take us over.  They ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Barners Trounce Who?

There is a website known as Grammarly that just completed a profound study. An automated proof-reading company (who I hope never finds out about me) collected 100 comments that each included over 50 words from the comment blogs of the nation’s preseason Top 25 college football teams. Then they fed them into the company’s huge algorithm computer and checked each fan base for punctuation, ... (click for more)

Pugh, Smith Lead Sale Creek Past East Ridge, 3-0

If Sale Creek’s Bailey Pugh and Ariana Smith were a comedy act, Pugh would be Ed McMahan and Smith would play Johnny Carson. On the court, Pugh sets up Smith, who finishes things with killer punch lines. That was certainly the case Tuesday at East Ridge High School where the visiting Lady Panthers rolled over the Lady Pioneers, 3-0, with game scores of 25-16, 25-8 and ... (click for more)

Luthringer, Boyd Earn First Wins In Prep Cross Country Tuesday

There were a couple of first-time winners on Tuesday afternoon at Camp Jordan as the Chattanooga Cross Country League had its first official meet of the season. It was plenty hot and the humidity was relentless, so race officials decided to shorten the first race from the customary 5K distance to a two-mile test. The heat didn’t seem to bother the overall winners as Signal ... (click for more)