The East Ridge city council passed an ordinance Thursday night that bans the use of electronic cigarettes inside all buildings that are owned or leased by the city. City Attorney Hal North told the councilmen that this is nowhere as broad as the tobacco ordinance adopted by the city. It does not prohibit use of the devices in city owned vehicles, equipment or outside buildings.
A vote to apply and accept the 2015 Community Development Block Grant was also approved.
This grant provides funding for flood and disaster mitigation. The money received will be used to purchase homes that are in a flood zone, help residents relocate and demolish the house. The amount expected to be received will buy three to four houses. The city’s contribution will not require actual cash but will be to provide the workers and equipment equivalent to $20,000. Amanda Miller, city services administrative assistant, said this year concentration would be on one side of Spring Creek Road.
Complaints from neighbors, the U.S. Postal service and East Ridge public works department prompted the council to prohibit parking along South St. Marks Road. It is a narrow road with nowhere to turn around at the end. Neighbors have complained they are unable to get out of their driveways and trucks and emergency vehicles have difficulty driving down the street. Authorization was given to place no parking signs along the road.
A contract will be made with TDOT that will allow the city of East Ridge to provide mowing and maintenance at the I-75, Exit 1 interchange for 2014-2015. The service will be done on a reimbursement basis. Councilman Marc Gravitt said that the area looks 100 percent better when the city does the maintenance. Because that is where a lot of development is occurring, Mayor Brent Lambert said it is important that it looks good.
Attorney North asked the council to authorize a petition for collecting signatures that will put the measure of wine sales in grocery stores, on the November ballot. He said the signatures of 526 East Ridge citizens who are registered voters are needed by early August to give the election committee time to verify the signatures. This will take the decision away from the council and give it to the citizens. How the petition will be circulated still needs to be determined.
Bids for materials used by the street department, for photography at sporting events and for the operation of food and refreshment concessions in Camp Jordan Park and Arena and the East Ridge community center were all awarded based on staff recommendations and the lowest or best bid that had been received. Color Craft and Lifetouch photographers submitted equal bids but Color Craft was chosen because no pre-payment was required. The food vendor that provided service last year will continue providing the services for 2014-2015. That company’s bid was to pay 34 percent of sales back to the city which is seven percent higher than the competing bid.
The closure of underground fuel tanks at the city garage was also awarded to the low bidder as recommended by staff. If any leakage is discovered, the tanks must be removed from the ground. The cost for doing that will be $19,843. If they can be sealed and left in position the cost will be $18,500. If nothing is done Ms. Miller said it would be required to monitor them and the cost to do that is greater than removing them.
It was decided to combine the Economic Advisory Board with the new Industrial Development Board (IDB). The IDB is a citizen led board appointed by the council that has the ability to offer special incentives to improve economic development in the city. It was also decided to stagger the terms of the board members. Some will have two year limits, some four and some six years. Any person can be reappointed when their term expires.
Compensation for the city judge must be decided before the election. An increase must be determined before a judge is in office. The term is for eight years and salary cannot be changed during that time. Currently the East Ridge city judge is paid $18,000. The council voted to increase the salary to $24,000.
Discussion took place about establishing a capital improvement plan that would anticipate what the needs will be in the future, so the city can be proactive versus being reactive due to breakdowns. City Treasurer Thad Jablonski is putting together a three year plan. He said it is fluid and can be changed as needed. He told the council that this business plan will not cost any more but will help the city become more efficient. He also suggested creating a grant fund for all the local, state and federal grants received by the city.
The donation of two vehicles has been made to East Ridge. An ambulance has been given to the fire department that will be used as a support vehicle for carrying supplies. The police department also received the gift of a 2008 GMC pick-up truck. The bed will be customized to suit the needs for animal control.
Mayor Lambert issued the police officer’s oath of honor to four new members of the East Ridge police department, Suzanne Booth, Lauren Whittenburg, Zach Fults and Scott Darwin. The mayor said he was proud to be able to administer the oath and thanked each for their service and what they do to keep the citizens of East Ridge safe.