East Ridge Increases Christmas Bonus For Employees; Approves Insurance For Council Members

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The East Ridge City Council on Tuesday approved a no-tax-increase budget that was amended to give employees a higher Christmas bonus.

The initial bonus was to be $200 for the 121 full time employees and $100 for part time workers. That was raised to $500 and $200.

Another amendment keeps on the staff a part time front office employee at $19,000 per year. That job had been slated to go away. Councilman Marc Gravitt said he had been told the post was not necessary.

The council voted 4-1 to allow council members to continue to receive insurance benefits. Vice Mayor Jim Bethune is the only one subscribed. The resolution said council members who opt for the benefit should pay the same rate as employees. 

Officials said employees pay $250 per year plus co-pays. Frances Pope, East Ridge resident, called that better than a Cadillac plan - "it's a Porsche plan."

Vice Mayor Bethune said he has been paying for his wife's insurance. The cost of the Bethune insurance last year was $12,000 and this year $13,800.

He and Councilman Larry Sewell, who voted no, exchanged barbs over the issue.

Vice Mayor Bethune said the benefit was offered to all council members. He said, "Nothing was hidden. Everything was out front. I did nothing under the table."

Councilman Sewell said he objected to the way the Bethune expenditure came about. He said the full council should have voted on it since it was over $10,000. He said, "We spent taxpayer money and it wasn't vote on. I don't think it was done right."

Vice Mayor Bethune said Councilman Sewell had earlier accepted a city IPad, and he claimed he was "downloading pictures from your sports" on the device. He also said, "None of us go to the gym. You go every day. You turn on the lights. You don't exercise in the dark."

Councilman Sewell said he saw the item in the budget last year, "but I thought it was money you were paying." He said former Mayor Mike Steele had paid the full amount. Vice Mayor Bethune said the former mayor was reimbursed by the city $3,920 of the money he paid.

Officials said it appears the recent budget will have a $700,000 surplus. The city has a $5.5 million rainy day fund.

A proposed change of the zoning ordinance was tabled for 90 days at the motion of Councilman Sewell. There are three firms on the rotation list, and two are owned by the same businessman, Buddy Broome. Butch Bryson said he has been coming to the meetings for two months trying to get on the list. He said he is ready to open a wrecker business in East Ridge.   

The council approved several code items, though City Attorney Hal North noted there had been some concerns that one section - Agenda 21 - "was part of One World Order" and that "the U.N was going to be over the plumbing certifications in East Ridge."

Officials noted that a new Dollar General Store has opened in East Ridge.

Also, Rick Igou is planning an indoor miniature golf facility.

Saturday is the 38th annual Jones Memorial Church barbecue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Proceeds go to buy coats for children in need of them. Last year, the club provided 200 coats. In addition to barbecue and sides, there will also be cakes, pies and candies.  

Officials said Stump Martin, parks director, was not at the meeting because he is having heart tests and procedures.

The council again interviewed city manager candidates Larry Ables, Hamilton County magistrate; Andrew Hyatt, city manager for Fairview, Tn.; and Andrew Ellard, acting director of the Department of Federal and State Progress in Hattiesburg, Miss.

 



  


Residents Call For A Public Meeting On Wilcox Tunnel

The North Brainerd Community Council, a neighborhood community council made up of 11 neighborhood presidents within the Eastdale/ North Brainerd communities, hosted a city-wide community forum at the Eastdale Youth and Family Development Center.  During this forum, residents addressed a number of citywide concerns to include crime, economic development, prescription drug, tobacco, ... (click for more)

Former Newport Police Detective Captain Goes To Prison For Distributing Controlled Substances

James Finley Holt, 59, of Cosby, Tenn., was sentenced Monday to serve 90 months in prison by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Judge.  Holt pleaded guilty to an information charging him with distribution of controlled substances and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The conviction of Holt was the result of an undercover investigation, ... (click for more)

When Black Friday Comes

So it’s Thanksgiving morning. You stumble out of bed and head to the bathroom to pee. Push the handle and away it goes (where does it go, anyway?) Better head to the kitchen and get the coffee on. While it’s brewing maybe a hot shower – love that gas water heater, I mean, it heats the water, and lots of it. Now time to enjoy a cup o’ joe and some breakfast while catching up with ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UVa --Time For Change

The University of Virginia is, by any measure, one of the finest universities in the world. I have long admired it, whether covering dozens of sports events, cavorting with countless friends, or benefitting repeatedly from the surgical skills of the late world-class humanitarian Frank McCue. But today there is a terrible pall over “Mr. Jefferson’s university” – no, make that a ... (click for more)

Vols' Jones: Vanderbilt Will Present Various Challenges

Tennessee football coach and selected players met with the media Monday during the Vols’ weekly press conference at Neyland Stadium. The coach and players – linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and defensive back Cameron Sutton discussed last week’s loss to Missouri and the upcoming Southeastern Conference finale against rival Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Vols 5-6, 2-5 SEC) ... (click for more)

Missouri Hangs On, Turns Back Tennessee, 29-21

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Missouri pin-pricked Joshua Dobbs’ bubble of invincibility Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. The nationally ranked Tigers drove a stake in Tennessee’s heart with Maty Mauk’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Jimmie Hunt in the fourth quarter, held Dobbs in check most of the game and beat the Vols, 29-21, before 95,821 fans on a chilly night on the banks of the Tennessee ... (click for more)