Lookout Mountain, Tn.’s budget for 2019-2020 passed on final reading at the June commission meeting. Property tax increases will be made slowly to make up income that is being phased out along with the Hall state income tax that will end in 2021. Homeowners will see a five percent increase in property taxes for 2020 with the rate changing from the current 1.89 to 1.99, said Assistant Treasurer Samantha VanAlstyne.
The change means that for a house with the median price of $460,000, property taxes will increase from $2,173.50 to $2,288.50.
A budget amendment that was passed on first reading in May changed during the month when the traffic camera at the intersection of Ochs Highway and Fleetwood needed to be replaced and a new truck was bought for the public works department. During May the town also spent $57,000 in paving and did some maintenance work at The Commons. The preliminary audit has been done, said Ms. VanAlstyne, and it will be finalized in August.
Mayor Walker Jones said that a $5 million rehabilitation of the sewer system throughout the town has now begun. This work is for repairing the large, old drainage pipes under the streets where they have collapsed and are leaking. Problem areas will be identified using cameras and will be repaired by lining the pipes without digging up the roads. The liners are designed to last 40 years. He said that residents may experience some traffic issues. This work is expected to take nine to 12 months to complete.
The building where The Mountain Market was located has been sold. The market will be moving to the previous location of Talus with plans to open in mid-July. Melissa Youngblood, a town resident, bought the building on N. Watauga and plans are to use it “to fill a void,” said the mayor. Both of these are positive moves for the town, he said.
Mayor Jones proclaimed the week of June 17-24 to be National Pollinator Week in Lookout Mountain, Tn. Brooke Pippenger, commissioner of parks and recreation, said during the past year after the town joined Bee City, U.S.A., that more people have been planting plants for pollinators and it seems that people are really interested. To celebrate the week locally, one day during the week, Ann Brown will bless the pollinator garden at Good Shepherd Church.
Commons Camp is doing well this summer, said Ms. Pippenger. She would like to remind everyone that dogs are not allowed at The Commons or on the ball fields. She said it is important for people to understand why. With all the walkers, children playing and ball fields, some of those people are afraid of dogs. And, some owners do not clean up after their dogs. "These are just not places to exercise your dog," she said. There is a town ordinance relating to this and signs are posted.
After a year and a half, officials believe that drainage issues in the parking lot below the tennis courts have finally been fixed and paving the lot will be done soon.
Commissioner of Fire and Police Jim Bentley read statistics from the department during May. Police patrolled 6,389 miles, answered 275 calls, including 10 false burglar alarms, and provided assistance to one citizen. Officers made 144 traffic stops, gave six parking citations, responded to one auto accident with no injuries and investigated 20 suspicious persons/vehicles or activity. There were nine arrests made in May. Eight medical calls in Tennessee were made and three in Georgia. The department answered three fire alarms, all false.
Of the nine arrests made during the month, none were locals. Most of the arrests were made of people who were stopped for traffic violations and were then found to have outstanding warrants, were in possession of drugs or were driving with a revoked driver’s license, said Chief Chuck Wells, adding that is a number he hopes to see decline.
The police in Lookout Mountain, Tn. have now all completed in-service and Taser training. The department has sent officers to trainer schools and now do not have to use outside instructors for these classes, said the chief. The only category where there is not an in-house expert is for child abuse classes.
The only solicitors allowed in the town without permits are affiliated with non-profits and religion-based organizations, said Chief Wells. Others are required to obtain a permit before going to houses. If a legitimate solicitor goes to a house, he should have a paper permit issued by the Lookout Mountain Police. Chief Wells said if there is any doubt, residents should call the police. Blue reflective dots are available at the front desk at town hall. If one of these stickers is on a mailbox, even solicitors with permits are not allowed to approach that residence.
The temporary traffic lights on Scenic Highway to convert the road into one-lane in the area where the road was undermined by heavy rain should be removed on Friday, June 14, said the chief. To complain about the bad condition of Ochs Highway, a road that is owned and maintained by the city of Chattanooga, he said to call 311. Chief Wells requests that all homes have street numbers in a visible location. He said that for police, fire or medical calls, his department can get to the right address faster and quicker if homes are marked.
During the summer, the public works department is fixing potholes and picking up brush, said Commissioner of Public Works Frank Schriner.
The good news for children and teachers is that school is out, said Commissioner of Schools Don Stinnett. The graduating class of 22 is one of the smallest in a long time, he said but enrollment for next year is already up to 25 or 30 new students, which will more than replace the number who graduated.
The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission will be July 9 at 5 p.m.