Lookout Mountain, Ga., Council Balks At Higher Hotel/Motel Tax; $417,000 In Repairs Needed To Krupski Loop Sewage System

Friday, April 12, 2019 - by Gail Perry

The Lookout Mountain, Ga., City Council, after hearing from the owner of the Chanticleer Lodge, has put the brakes on the idea of raising the hotel/motel tax within the city.

 

Mayor David Bennett had been considering increasing the hotel/motel tax by three to eight percent. It was estimated it could bring the town an additional $60,000 to $70,000 a year. The money from the tax would have to be used for “tourism product development,” and that could include building trails, which the town is now planning to do.

 

Michael Turner, owner of Chanticleer Lodge, said an increase would be disastrous for both Chanticleer and Garden Walk. He said most of his business is from visitors to Chattanooga and that the two hotels in Lookout Mountain, Ga. have to spend a lot of money to get people to stay on the mountain. He said a 10-year history shows the Chanticleer’s year-round occupancy rate is 53 percent. Now, the combined Walker County and Lookout Mountain city tax is 11 percent versus 10.5 percent in Chattanooga.The council members agreed that they did not want to hurt local business.

 

When Lookout Mountain, Ga. acquired the sewer system at Krupski Loop it was assured the system was in good shape, officials said. Now two tanks have collapsed and it has been discovered that the original plan designed to use concrete tanks was changed to fiberglass during construction to save money. Now the town is stuck with the deteriorating system that is expected to cost about $217,000 to replace. Jimmy Campbell, chairman of the sewer board, said the town will negotiate to have the parties that were involved, to pay for the repairs. He said, “We want to be held harmless.”

The sewer pumping station is also in need of updates requiring $200,000 to get it back into the original shape.  The city plans to apply for a grant that would pay for the repairs.

 

The city took over the sewer system from Covenant College a number of years ago after money was raised from various sources, including grants and the college, for repairs to the system. At the time, Covenant was having to spend about $60,000 per year on the Krupski Loop system.

 

Mr. Campbell told the council that N.W. Utility District which has been billing sewer services for Lookout Mountain, Ga., will discontinue that service at the end of August. The town plans to do it internally with help from an employee who comes from N.W. Utility, on an hourly basis. This will cost an additional $6,000-$7,000 per year more than is currently being paid. There will be an effort to use email to invoice and debit versus paper billing, which will save money.

Volunteer fire and medical personnel who supplement Lookout Mountain, Ga.’s fire department will be getting some benefits. They will now be insured as temporary employees once a call is issued.After it was brought to the attention of Taylor Watson, council liaison to the fire and police department, that the volunteers have been buying their own medical supplies, each of the six will now be reimbursed for those expenses.

 

The volunteers will only be allowed to use red lights while in Georgia. 

 

Chief Todd Gann informed the council that radios used by the fire and police department will soon be obsolete and cannot be repaired. The purchase of three new radios has been approved for the amount of $10,000. The old ones that are still working will be put on the trucks.

 

It was a relatively quiet month for the fire and police department, said Chief Gann. Activity included 3,290 miles patrolled, 24 traffic stops, 12 citations and 19 warnings given to motorists. There were four automobile accidents and 14 alarms answered. Two arrests were made during the month and there were no burglaries or thefts. Three suspicious persons and two suspicious vehicles were checked. Police provided assistance to 12 citizens, four motorists and to the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Police on three occasions. In March, one fire call was answered and eight medical calls.

 

Testing at Fairyland Elementary School will soon begin, said Council member Caroline Williams. The teachers are evaluated and given raises based on these tests and so have been preparing. They feel the children are also ready and well prepared, she said. The Fairyland Festival will be on April 25.

 

Drainage problems near the bottom of Hardy Road have caused damage that the town will have to repair, said Mayor Bennett. It will require paving and adding a curb and is expected to cost around $21,000. The motion passed to approve spending up to $25,000 for the work assuming that the lowest and best bid will be accepted and TSPLOST funds will pay for it. The town will get three bids for the project.

 

Town officials will be holding public meetings to unveil two new plans for the city. The comprehensive plan that will guide the town’s future growth will be made public at the Fairyland Club on May 7. The unveiling of the new Town Center will take place at the club next Monday at 6 p.m. The meeting will be recorded and those who are unable to attend can view it on the town’s website. A second, follow-up meeting will be held April 22 at 6 p.m.  Citizens will have the opportunity to email questions and comments to: towncenter@lookoutmtnga.com.

 

Lookout Mountain, Ga. City Judge Buddy Presley gave owners of the old Fairyland Courts located on the Simms property on McFarland Road until March 21 to demolish the buildings. The deadline passed so it is now up to the city to do the demolition. Mayor Bennett said the city is trying to determine the amount of asbestos and will seek bids to remediate it. It will also seek bids to remove the buildings. After the work is done, the town will put a lien on the property that will be paid whenever it is sold.

 

The mayor also announced Lookout for Litter, a joint effort with the Tennessee side to clean up roadways in both towns, which will take place this coming Saturday. Volunteers will meet at The Commons at 9 a.m. The annual baseball parade will be held April 27.

 

 


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