Lookout Mountain, Tn. treasurer Frank Schriner said the advent of the coronavirus and the vanishing of the Hall Tax left the town with a profit of just $134 for the past fiscal year.
He said until February, the year was normal then things changed with the arrival of the virus. At that time every department reevaluated their needs and reduced their budgets in order to achieve the tiny overage.
This was despite the emergency purchase of a new garbage truck for $143,000 and less income from the Hall Tax than expected.
The budget had planned getting $350,000 from the tax but the town actually received $287,000. The town is in good shape financially although revenue will continue to be weak, he said. One example is that in June 2019 over $20,000 was made on parking meters around the Incline and Point Park. This year just $309 was made for the same time period.
“We talk about this every month,” said Commissioner of Fire and Police Jim Bentley. Since the first of the year, five cars have been stolen in Lookout Mountain, all have one thing in common: the keys were left in the car. Every one of them has been recovered - the police are doing their job, he said but “please lock your cars.” Chief Chuck Wells and Assistant Chief Dale Taylor both came from the Chattanooga Police Department and have a good working relationship with CPD. They worked closely with the Lookout Mountain police to find the stolen vehicles, identified those who were responsible and made the arrests. Chief Wells said he extends gratitude to the Chattanooga police officers who worked the East Chattanooga area under the direction of Sergeant Mitchell. “They did an amazing job with locating, recovery and arresting all suspects.”
The Lookout Mountain, Tn. Police received 211 calls during the month of June and responded to 11 false burglar alarms, six assist citizen calls and 18 calls to 911. During the month, 4,712 miles were patrolled. There were two auto accidents with no injuries and 97 traffic stops were made, two parking citations were written and there were five arrests. Two were for outstanding warrants, two for traffic violations and one for narcotic violations. Three vehicles were stolen in June and all were recovered. There were 25 suspicious persons/vehicles or activities investigated. There was one false fire alarm in June and six medical calls - three in Tennessee and three in Georgia. Commissioner Bentley noted that Lookout Mountain, Tn. Is the only city in Hamilton County which offers advanced life support prior to the arrival of an ambulance.
In June, the whole police department completed a week and a half of annual in-service training at the school. Principal Ruth White said she is so grateful that every officer knows everything there is to know about the LMS building and every way to get inside. The police/fire department was also recognized by the council for keeping a Class 2 ISO rating. Mayor Walker Jones said this excellent rating directly correlates to lower home owner’s insurance rates.
The playground at The Commons opened quietly the last weekend in June, said Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds David Paschall. It is being cleaned multiple times weekly and hand sanitizer is available at the entrances. The LMS gym remains closed. Commons Camp will not be held this summer. Soccer registration is still going on, he said, but the season is “still fluid.” At this point, it looks like there will be skills clinics in August and games beginning in September at the earliest. Letters have been sent out to gauge the interest from parents.
The mountain has lost a very valuable sports figure. B.B. Branton, who died this week, was incredibly active in this community, said Mr. Paschall and had been inducted in the Lookout Mountain Hall of Fame. No event up here was unimportant to Mr. Branton, said the commissioner. He said he will be sorely missed.
How the school will open and teach is a work in progress, said Principal White. Hamilton County schools will have several phases available. Option #1 is a phased-in plan for in-person learning. Which phase at any time will depend on the number of virus cases in a zip code. Option #2 is HCS at Home Program for remote instruction. It will allow a student to stay a part of the LMS community. Students in this program can participate in their school clubs and athletics. Registration for this option will be available only through July 22. Option #3 is HC Virtual School. This is a self-directed program and depends on parents to support the student. Principal White has prepared a list of frequently asked questions that will be sent out to parents to help choose the option for their children. Ms. White also announced that Teresa Hellerstedt, who has been an Instructional Assistant for the past 15 years, is retiring.
Commissioner Schriner said there has been a large volume of brush created by people staying home and working in their yards. Public Works employees are clearing that debris as well as cutting and clearing vines and underbrush along roadsides. With the arrival of hot weather, plans are to fix potholes and he said bids are being requested for paving of North Bragg from Morrison to Scenic Highway. The commissioner also would like to encourage people to treat their hemlocks for wooly adelgid infestation.
At the last commission meeting an amendment to the town’s noise ordinance was approved. After hearing some objections, the commissioners decided to table the issue to have time for more discussion.
In his monthly report, the mayor said that the Lookout Mountain Beautiful Garden Club is working on terraced areas at The Commons to uncover stone walls and plantings.
The WWTA is 99 percent done with sewer repairs on the mountain. And the mayor reported that the town has applied for a $71,000 grant from the state to help with losses due to Covid-19.
Nothing could be farther from the truth than the rumor that the town will end recycling, said the mayor. It costs $45 per ton for garbage to be removed. The town at one time sold recyclable items, , but now it costs $35 per ton to remove it. Because the residents of Lookout Mountain, Ga. use Tennessee’s recycling facilities, Georgia will now pay half of the cost.
The mayor said that a donation of $9,000 from the Community Foundation has been given to Lookout Mountain, Tn., to be used for the parks and playgrounds.
The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 5:30.