Fort Oglethorpe Sewer Rates To Increase; Refinancing To Save $700,000; Insurance Costs Up 37%

Thursday, July 17, 2014 - by Dennis Norwood

Councilwoman Paula Stinnett listens to an explanation by City Manager Ron Goulart.
Councilwoman Paula Stinnett listens to an explanation by City Manager Ron Goulart.
- photo by Dennis Norwood

The Fort Oglethorpe City Council voted at a special session Thursday morning to approve an increase in sewer rates.

City Manager Ron Goulart said that each year the rates must be reviewed to ensure that the city could meet its obligations to the city of Chattanooga for this service. The rates for residential customers inside the city limits will rise from $29.24 to $31.87, while commercial users will see an increase from $37.80 to $41.29.
Outside the city, residential sewer users will have their rates go from $19.79 to $21.37 and commercial users’ rates will increase from $25.32 to $27.68. Tennessee-American residential customers in Catoosa County will have an increase to $21.98 from $20.27 and commercial users will go from $25.75 to $28.01.

Mayor Lynn Long said of the increases, “Nobody likes a rate increase, but they’re inevitable.”

The council approved the refunding and refinancing of a 2009 bond in the amount of $11 million. The new amount of the bond will be $16,500,000. According to City Manager Goulart, this action will save the city $700,000. 

Mr. Goulart informed the council that health insurance rates for the city will be increasing this next year. He said, “We’ve tried to get more affordable rates but we just can’t get them due to our high rate of claims.”
He said rates would increase by 37 percent over last year’s charges. The city will continue to use United Health Care. The council unanimously approved this item.
The proposed lease for the Sixth Calvary was ratified by the council. Prior to the vote Mayor Long asked if it would be appropriate to amend the lease by bringing use of the polo field back under the approval of the council. In the absence of City Attorney Robbie Stultz, Mr. Goulart answered that this would not be necessary.
 
The mayor brought up the current lawsuit the city is involved in with Sharon Anderson, a resident of Barnhardt Circle. The suit was filed in January 2009 and in September 2012 a jury in Catoosa County Superior Court awarded Ms. Anderson’s Atlanta attorneys $80,000 in fees. The suit involved the city constructing a 10 foot by 30 foot slab of concrete for a cricket pitch in front of what was once Officer’s Row on the circle.
 
Mayor Long said that the city has so far spent over $47,000 on litigation. According to Mr. Goulart the case is now with the Georgia appellate courts.
 
In other actions, the council approved an agreement with the city of Lookout Mountain, Ga., for 15 parking spaces in the lot behind the Steak and Shake restaurant, as well as ratifying the Appeals Board approval for a sign variance for Walmart. Approval was also given for a proposed engineering study for a Scruggs Road sewer project with a cost of $26,000.
The council granted approval to the city manager to grant an additional 15 days of paid leave to an employee out on medical leave.
Ms. Stinnett bragged on the recent Patriotism in the Park event, saying that over 3,000 attended the event and over 80 volunteers participated. She said, “It was a really great event.” She also reminded attendees that there will be a “Remembering Our Heroes” event in the city on Oct. 24 and 25.
Councilman Derek Rogers reported that 150 teams recently took part in a tournament in the city.
Ms. Stinnett also announced that there will be a Spirit Night held in memory of Jan Blevins, wife of police officer Steve Blevins, who recently lost a long battle with cancer. It will be held on July 29 from 5 until 8 p.m. at the Chik-Fil-A on Battlefield Parkway. The restaurant will donate a percentage of the revenue from dine-in customers to a fund for Ms. Blevins.

Mr. Goulart told council members that the city revenues were doing well at this point and were exceeding expenditures for the time being. He also announced that the city’s Utility Department had applied for a grant with the state of Georgia that was approved. The grant will cover the inspection of 30 miles of the city’s 31 miles of water system. 

The council acted on several ordinances. On the third and final reading of two ordinances related to the rezoning of a tract of land located at Fort Town Drive no council member would make a motion to approve, letting the motions die. The request was to rezone the land from C2 to PM.

This was after Dee Burress, spokesperson for Ted Moss doing business as Volunteer LLC and Brown Construction, requested that the two items be tabled until he could provide more information. Several council members said they were satisfied with the information they had been provided. Councilwoman Paula Stinnett related that she had received Mr. Burress’ request to meet privately to discuss the matter, but said she did not feel comfortable meeting individually to discuss the matter.
Councilman Earl Gray remarked, “Let’s go ahead and vote. It’s on the agenda and we’ve held the public hearing.”
The council approved by resolution a first reading on Ordinance 2014-09, a request to subdivide tract three at 4199 Cloud Springs Road, owned by Chris Carlton, Interstate Commerce Center.

 

The called meeting was necessitated due to its inability to have a quorum present for its regularly scheduled meeting the prior Monday evening.
(Dennis Norwood can be reached at newswriter614@gmail.com or on Twitter at @DennisENorwood)

 

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