In response to the request from the new Hamilton County tax assessor for the town to pay one half the cost of reappraisals this year, the Signal Mountain Town Council voted Monday night to request the Hamilton County Commission to enter into an interlocal agreement that remains consistent with the prior agreement which has existed for many years. In that agreement, no additional local costs by the taxpayers has been required other than those already paid in the form of property taxes to Hamilton County.
The state of Tennessee provides a per-parcel grant to local governments to assist in the cost of reappraisals. Signal Mountain for many years has allowed Hamilton County to retain all of the per-parcel grant funds. The reappraisals scheduled for 2017 are expected to cost Signal Mountain $26,000, which was not included in the budget. Additionally, the assessor is asking for $5,000 to be paid each off-year for maintenance. Several other municipalities have also expressed opposition to the new fees.
Town Manager Boyd Veal was given authorization to enter into an agreement with ASA Engineering and Consulting for the design development and construction and engineering inspections to the Old Town sidewalk project. The amount of the contract will not exceed $137,000. The project will involve sidewalks throughout the district, with some new ones built. However, it will largely replace old sidewalks to make them ADA compliant.
Mr. Veal also will be allowed to purchase six portable digital radios for the police department, from Motorola Solutions. The town was awarded a $15,000 local law enforcement equipment grant from the The Tennessee Justice Assistance Grant Program which will be used for the purchase. The town will add $3,000 due to the prices that increased from the time of the original quote. The department has plans to replace six, or one third of the radios, each year to spread out the cost. The ones that are being replaced are obsolete and cannot be sold.
TDOT has determined that the bridge that accesses the Shoal Creek Falls subdivision needs to be replaced for safety issues. One lane must remain open during the work. The town has two preliminary designs ready and is working to get access into and out of the area. One resident may allow the town temporary access through their property. If a temporary road can be built on the temporary easement, the new bridge can be constructed in the same location as the old one. If the old bridge has to stay in place in order to use it to access the subdivision, then configuration of the bridge will have to change. Residents of the area have expressed resistance to moving the bridge, and the city manager said the town is working to accommodate them, if possible. A grant from the state will pay 98 percent of the cost of the replacement.
A new SRO provided by Hamilton County started work last week at the request of Signal Mountain Police Chief Mike Williams and the principal at the high school. The town also provides an SRO. The officer provided by the county will be assigned to the high school and the town’s officer will handle the middle and both elementary schools.
The school viability committee is moving forward. An application for those interested in serving on the committee is available on the town’s website. There is also the ability for residents to submit questions to the committee. Mayor Chris Howley said it will be important for the citizens’ concerns to be addressed. Mr. Veal will also provide the 125-page report created by the group that originally did the study about forming a Signal Mountain school system. All council members were asked to read that report, which includes the source of the information. The council will review applicants. Mayor Howley said he hopes to include representative from Walden and Hamilton County.
Mayor Howley announced that Judge Mark Rothberger wants to retire, and the town is in the process of getting candidates for his replacement. The replacement will serve as a placeholder for two years until the next election that will choose a judge for a full eight-year term. Applicants will be discussed at the agenda meeting on Jan. 27 at 12:30 p.m.
The council voted to amend the 2016-2017 budget, adding $25,000 to cover the cost of worker’s compensation insurance for town employees. There is also a change of $34,180 for architectural services, $4,300 for dental insurance increases, $55,000 for a Swaploader hook lift system for the public works department, $69,819 for two fire vehicles and $1,100,000 for capital improvements for water projects.