Signal Mountain Mayor Dan Landrum’s annual “State of the Town” address was a mostly-positive recap of what the community had accomplished in 2019, while also highlighting its most notable problem. Throughout the address, Mayor Landrum praised the work of the various Signal Mountain departments. But in the end, a unifying theme became apparent for the state of Signal Mountain’s government.
Despite of the success the town has experienced, many of the boards and departments are understaffed and struggling to fill roles, he said. For instance, Mayor Landrum spoke of the police department, who had difficulty finding enough qualified applicants to fill three vacancies. In the case of the police department, the mayor noted that the department ranked at the bottom when it came to pay when compared to nearby police departments.
Mayor Landrum called upon himself and his fellow council members to do their part in spreading awareness of these empty spots, saying “it’s our responsibility to encourage participation.” One thing the council did to help alleviate this issue was to amend the rule around nepotism. Before Monday night, a department could not hire someone on their staff if one of their family members was currently employed there. With the new amendment, family members can work together as long as one is not in a position of authority over the other.
On a more positive note, Mayor Landrum spotlighted the success of the Signal Mountain Library. According to a report done by the library, 63,000 books and items were circulated in 2019. He also joked that, while some say the library does not collect fines, the library collected $2,400 in fines during the year. With 261 new patrons added to the list, the library now boasts 5,529 patrons.
In addition to their productivity, the friends of the library have raised half of the $580,000 needed to fund a new reading room. The new addition will be in the back of the library, and there will be an elevator added too. Mayor Landrum gave a special shout out to the 60 volunteers who help make the library thrive.
Within the realm of public works, Mayor Landrum discussed the good work that was done by the leaf collection workers. However, he again pointed out that public works received no interest from ads put out about the need for additional workers, and he said the crew was constantly short-handed.
The lack of pay is especially an issue with the fire department, which recently opened another station to help with response time. While the advances in technology have helped the station’s efficiency, the department has faced difficulties with finding employees. Like the police department, the fire department’s salaries are quite low compared to their peers.
Despite the negativity surrounding this one issue, the mayor emphasized that the staff the town does employ is well-trained. From the fire department to public works, each department is well-informed on what they need to know in order to best serve their community, he said.
“There is constant training going on in every department to keep our town up on everything they need to be up to date on,” said Mayor Landrum.