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.

 



  


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AUSTIN, RYAN BISHOP 128 GOODSON AVENUE RED BANK, 37405 32 Hamilton County DRIVING ON REVOKED LICENSE BAKER, SARAH CAITLYN 1423 CYPRESS STREET COURT CHATTANOOGA, 37402 37 Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) BAUGH, CODY 5220 CREEKS BEND LN HIXSON, 37343 ... (click for more)

Michael Basham Sought In Bradley County Burglaries

Michael Basham is being sought in Bradley County for several burglaries.  On Feb. 23, several residents in the area of Keith Valley Road in south Bradley County reported their vehicles were burglarized with items stolen. Bradley County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Division received information that Michael Basham was the suspect in these auto burglaries. ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)

Tre Tiller's 22 Leads Central To Region 3-AA Basketball Championship

There just must be something about playing basketball at Chattanooga State that makes the Central Purple Pounders click. Especially when the opponent is the Brainerd Panthers. Facing Brainerd for the fifth time this season and second at Chattanooga State on Monday night, the Purple Pounders defeated the Panthers for the third time. The latest conquest may have ... (click for more)

Greater Chattanooga HOF: Chairman John Farr To Step Down Class of 2015 Induction Dinner is Tonight At Convention Center

For chairman Dr. John Farr, tonight’s annual Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame dinner is the close of his decade of strong leadership.   A hall of fame board member since 1993, Dr.Farr plans to continue to hold a seat on the board, but has decided to step down as chair.   “I have enjoyed my 10 years as chairman, but I think it is time to let someone else ... (click for more)