A presentation of the city’s 2019-2020 budget was made at the East Ridge City Council on Thursday night. City Manager Chris Dorsey thanked Assistant City Manager Kenny Custer and Financial Director Diane Qualls for their contributions to this budget, saying that it had been very far along by the time he took over as city manager.
The general fund operating budget for 2020 is $13,882,746 - a 12.5 percent decrease over last year’s general fund.
Revenue is planned to be lower than last year due to local and state sales taxes that are projected to decrease. The city manager said that, although the economy in East Ridge is on the upswing, some of the planned developments have not been completed due to unforeseen delays such as weather, which has caused lower than predicted current year receipts. However, some major developments are planned to come online in 2020.
Because of the revenue decrease and an expenditure increase there will be a planned use of $646,000 from the fund balance for the city’s share of the Frontier Splash Park and its share of the Ringgold Road Multi-Modal project. The amount that East Ridge will be responsible for is eligible for reimbursement through the Border Region Act. East Ridge’s total debt is $19,290,409. Mayor Brian Williams told the citizens present that $16.500,000 of this debt will be covered by the hotel/motel tax and border region reimbursements. The amount that will be funded by taxpayers is $2.7 million.
Included in this year’s budget is a six percent increase in the cost of health insurance for city employees. There will also be a three percent general cost of living adjustment for employees. Four police vehicles will be financed and hoses and nozzles will be replaced for the fire department. The public works department is scheduled to get a new side arm garbage truck.
A budget workshop is being planned and will be open to the public. There will be two readings of the budget and it can still be amended at the second reading, said Mr. Dorsey.
As the city is upgrading Camp Jordan Park, unexpected problems have shown up. The latest will require a change order not to exceed $30,000 for plumbing and electrical work in the area of building #3, which contains a concession stand and restrooms. The council approved spending the amount so these facilities will be available for a large college showcase regional tournament at Camp Jordan on June 6-8.
More development is in the works for a tract of land on Camp Jordan Parkway. John Healy, Exit One LLC, was granted a request to receive a conditional use permit for the property which will permit indoor/outdoor recreational uses in the C-2 General Commercial District. Allowed uses will include multi-purpose recreational activities such as an outdoor theater, outdoor entertainment, golf driving range or mini-golf and outdoor accessory uses such as an outdoor seating/dining area.
The owner of property at 3919 Weldon Drive received a zoning change from C-2 General Commercial to R-1 Residential. Assistant City Manager Kenny Custer said the location has been a long time residence but had been inadvertently zoned C-2. Because of the zoning, the owner could not obtain certain permits that were needed for repairs. On Thursday night the property reverted back to residential.
The council authorized the mayor to enter an interagency agreement between East Ridge and multiple law enforcement entities in the Chattanooga area representing the child protective investigative team of Hamilton County. This will allow investigation across lines for any child abuse, said Assistant Police Chief Stan Allen.
The council also approved an agreement with the city of Collegedale for use of its police firing range. The East Ridge Police will use this facility for firearms training.
Fire Chief Mike Williams received council approval for the purchase of an all-terrain side by side vehicle and accessories that will be used by the fire rescue department. The lowest bid was $16,378 and will come from a Homeland Security Grant at no cost to the city.
Authorization was given to apply for and accept two grants that the city has received for multiple years. A grant of $1,000 from the Target Corporation would provide $1,000 to be used for paying participation registration fees and/or equipment for youth ages 5-18 in East Ridge for participation in the city’s youth soccer program. If the 2019 Bureau of Justice Assistance Bulletproof vest partnership 50/50 grant is received, the East Ridge Police Department will receive ballistic vests with the city contributing half the cost.
Mayor Williams would like to invite the public to the annual East Ridge Memorial Day Ceremony honoring those who have died serving their country. It will be held Monday at Pioneer Frontier Park at 1:30 p.m.
The city made a presentation of a plaque to Carol Courtney to thank and honor her upon her retirement after 29 years. From 1990 until April 2019 she has served the city as a school crossing guard. “We appreciate your dedicated service to our city. It’s been greatly appreciated,” said Mayor Williams.