Lookout Mountain, Ga., Has 2% Tax Rise; Franklin Architects To Design Town Center; Council Members Have No Election Challengers

Friday, September 22, 2017 - by Gail Perry

A public hearing regarding setting the millage rate for 2017 was held Thursday evening before the start of the monthly Lookout Mountain, Ga., Town Council meeting. Each year the council and mayor estimate the revenue needed to operate the city to determine the amount of tax that will be needed, said City Attorney Bill Pickering. The recommendation, which was approved by the council, was to set the millage rate this year at 9.35 mills. That is a two percent increase for homeowners and will provide the city with $15,983 above what was collected in 2016.

Mayor David Bennett gave an update on the Town Center project. He announced that the architectural firm Franklin Architects has been selected to design the master plan. Several preliminary meetings have already been held. It is hoped that renderings of the design will be ready to show the public in February. The ground breaking is expected before summer 2018.

The mayor also said that all current council members have qualified for re-election and there are no challengers. The city, therefore, can cancel the November election. The county election will still take place with a proposed one cent increase to the special local option sales (SPLOST) tax on the ballot.

Council member Caroline Williams in the school report said the fundraiser “Music on the Mountain” had a record attendance of about 300 people this year and raised a lot of money for Fairyland School. She encouraged participation at the LMS fall carnival on Oct. 3, and at the Great Pumpkin Chase, another fundraiser for Fairyland School, on Oct. 27 that is meant as a way for children to learn about fundraising and what the money will support. The after school program is being run by teachers, she said, and help with school work is available as well as other entertaining enrichment programs. She gave a reminder that the speed limit in mornings and afternoons is 15 mph.

Statistics from the police and fire departments were given for the month of August by Chief Todd Gann. During the month, police patrolled 2,998 miles, made 18 traffic stops, gave 10 citations and 18 warnings. It was noted that the town is cracking down on speeding. There were four accidents. Seven suspicious vehicles and six suspicious persons were investigated, and 11 alarms were answered. During the month there were six medical calls, one fire call, six assist citizen calls and five to help motorists. There were no thefts or burglaries during August. Mayor Bennett praised the police department for handling the recent Ironman competition that went off without a hitch.

Municipal Judge Buddy Presley requested changes to enable the court to issue the maximum amount, not tied to a dollar amount, for contempt of court charges. He also suggested adopting the state of Georgia’s table of fines for violations. The council approved both changes.

A mutual aid agreement with Lookout Mountain, Tn., was approved. The Tennessee town’s insurance carrier requested documentation of the arrangement between the two municipalities that share costs associated with security cameras that monitor the entrances to both towns

Councilman Arch Willingham reported that the planning commission is in discussions about the best way to look at a high density area in the city and is considering a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that may be relevant to the new town center. A special meeting is planned for October for more deliberation before bringing it to the Town Council. Any change to density in the town will require public meetings and an amendment to the zoning ordinance, said attorney Pickering.

An ordinance was passed on first reading at the August council meeting that approved and established the rules and regulations for a new home sharing ordinance. The new ordinance passed on second and final reading Thursday night with only Councilmember Taylor Watson opposed.

Wes Hasden representing the sewer board said the town is now keeping records about the sewer system that are available to public scrutiny. He said that Soddy Daisy will be doing sewer collections for Lookout Mountain, Ga. A new air release valve on Fleetwood should solve a lot of problems, he said. A low bid for the work was accepted contingent upon Attorney Pickering’s review.

Ann Brown made a proposal to the council for the city to be the fourth in Georgia to become a Bee City U.S.A. The mission of the group is to sustain pollinators including bees, butterflies, bats, ants, hummingbirds and moths by increasing habitat with flowering native plants, using fewer chemicals, and increasing awareness of their plight, through education.  The council voted to join the program and will partner with the Town of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee which also has become a supporter of Bee City. program. Members of the council suggested various ways to participate, such as having Fairyland students plant a bee garden at the new Joe Wilson Park.

Rock City president Bill Chapin told the council of his concern about the spread of kudzu on both private and public property. He made the suggestion to secure goats inside fenced areas and allow them to graze on the vine. For their protection another animal such as a donkey or Great Pyrenees would be fenced in with the goats. The council has agreed to investigate this possibility and recognized it as a way to manage the problem without using herbicides, another way to help pollinators. If the city tests this method on city owned property, the large animal ordinance will need to be amended, said Mr. Pickering.

In his report, Mayor Bennett said the city is trying to communicate better with its residents through email. He encourages all citizens of the town to get on the city’s distribution list at citymanager@lookoutmtnga.com.

 



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