After several months of back and forth, the East Ridge City Council has chosen to extend a three-year contract to the town of Ridgeside, approving an interlocal agreement for East Ridge to provide fire and police services to the smaller community.
Initially, Ridgeside proposed an agreement with no increase in payment for the first year, a three percent increase for the second year, and a three percent increase for the third year.
Council member Jacky Cagle said he had a hard time getting full salary reports for fire and police and questioned if the increase in the contract was enough. He motioned to deny the proposal, wanting a three percent increase in the agreement for the first year, as well. Council member Brian Williams said he did not want to cause Ridgeside any trouble but agreed that the offer did not seem adequate.
Ridgeside Mayor Janet Jobe said the most recent numbers on the city of East Ridge’s website show that residents in Ridgeside are paying more per household than residents in East Ridge for these services. She said Ridgeside made its best effort with the proposal.
"We haven’t had any investigations. We haven’t had any shootings that I know of," she said. "We’re pretty vigilant as a community to watch out for what’s going on cause were not that big."
Council member Cagle said he believed Ridgeside had had "three or four shots fired" calls. City Manager Scott Miller added that procedures for such calls would require two officer response cars instead of just one.
Mayor Jobe said that such calls are usually about Tunnel Boulevard and Shallowford Road. She also added that Ridgeside has no commercial revenue and is not growing.
"We’re the same size we’ve always been," she said. "For the most part, the population and number of residents stays the same and has for a number of years."
Council member Williams said, "I just want to make sure we're compensated for the service that’s been provided."
City Manager Miller noted that officers from East Ridge make a mandatory two trips to Ridgeside per shift, along with responding to any calls.
Commisoner Blane Haywood from Ridgeside said he had been monitoring the numbers as best he could in terms of trips.
"It appears we’re getting what we pay for," he said. He then proposed a four percent increase for the second and third years of the contract, which was approved.
"We up here appreciate the relationship that we have with the city of Ridgeside, and we appreciate you for working with us and being understanding of what our needs are," said Mayor Brent Lambert.
The council discussed a request for a new loan to be undertaken by the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund for upgrades to Camp Jordan Park. City Manager Miller named some of the needs at Camp Jordan, such as replacement restrooms, fencing and bleachers. He said the concessions in the lobby of the arena needed to be rebuilt and the roof needed to be repaired.
"What is out there has been out there for many years," he said. "We need to upgrade it."
City Manager Miller said Camp Jordan is currently undergoing an upgrade survey. He was hopeful that final documents could be prepared and brought back to the council by the summer of 2018.
"We’re really not gonna get actively involved in the new buildings and fields until the fall 2018," he said.
During the meeting, the council approved applications and acceptance of grants for firefighters and fire prevention and safety. Council members also approved the city of East Ridge to accept credit and debit cards as additional forms of payment for all monetary transactions, as well as a request to have the Municipal Technical Advisory Services recodify and revise the East Ridge Code of Ordinances. City Manager Miller said money for this had already been budgeted.
Greg Shipley, a resident from Nottingham Drive who is running for City Council, suggested that the turn onto Ringgold Road near Dunkin Donuts and Firehouse Subs should be a right turn only. City Manager Miller agreed that the "whole area there gets congested" and that the council should look into the issue for safety reasons.