Mayor Charles Poss delivered the State of the Town report at the Tuesday night meeting of the Signal Mountain Council. In a year that everyone is glad to see end, the town of Signal Mountain had a good year overall, said the mayor. He thanked employees for trying to keep things as normal as possible and he thanked the citizens for being cooperative this past year. Highlights of the report include that Town Manager Boyd Veal achieved the goal of maintaining the same level of service without increasing taxes.
The finance department headed by Carol White ended the year $313,382 over what had been projected. The sales tax came in at $272,000 above what had been planned and the last year for the Hall Tax exceeded the budgeted amount by $152,000.
The police department improved digital management services, went paperless and provided additional training for the officers. The fire department has achieved a rating of 2. There were 2,194 building inspections and building codes were updated. The city's facilities were repaired and upgraded by the facilities maintenance department. The public works department collected 3,683 tons of garbage and diverted 500 tons of recyclable materials from the landfield. The James Boulevard rehabilitation project was completed and six major stormwater projects done. The water utility department installed 3,400 new water meters in just over nine weeks and upgraded the monitoring program.
A new reading room was planned for the library and construction is expected to begin in early 2021. Although the library was shut down in March 2020, residents were still provided services such as a drive by to pick up books and grab bags for children filled with books and crafts. A grant was obtained for making upgrades to Marion and Driver Fields. All youth sports league programs took place except swim teams. Over all, the parks and recreation department served over 1,000 kids and volunteers made great strides at the Mountain Arts Community Center, said Mayor Poss.
The full report is available on the town’s website.
Additional funds were approved for the engineering work done by ASA Engineering for sidewalks in Olde Town. Grant funds from two other projects that had been planned for Signal Mountain were rolled over into this project. Each phase has moved very slowly partially due to added requirements from the state as the time line got longer. The board voted to approve a change order from ASA to not exceed $47,000 due to the additional time needed to fulfill the state’s new standards. Public Works Director Loretta Hopper is ready to start once engineering is finished in early summer.
Additional funds were also authorized for replacing four light poles damaged by woodpeckers that are around the municipal buildings. Three were scheduled for replacement at the cost not to exceed $10,000 and had been bid out before a fourth damaged pole was identified. Replacement of that pole was added to the scope of the work and was included in the billing by Lawson Electric which the council approved.
The Wild Ridge planned unit development was begun in 2013 and eight to 10 phases were planned. At the time, administrative changes could be made to the development schedule by the city manager. He was given the authority to reschedule if time needed to be extended. That agreement lapsed and Tuesday night the city manager was reauthorized to make changes to the construction schedule of the PUD.
Mr. Veal was also approved as the proxy for Mayor Poss to the Chattanooga Hamilton, North Georgia Transportation Executive Board.
Sam Guin, special projects and compliance manager, identified some items that residents would like to see on the town’s website when it is redesigned. He said the number one feature wanted was to be able to make payments, search for fees and to have the ability to fill out forms online. Other desired features are to have interactive maps of parks and playgrounds and a list of capital projects that are taking place in the town. and a way to search for fees. The website will need to be user friendly for both the department heads and residents. The next step will be to decide if an individual or specialized company would be best to create the website, and the cost to do it. More discussion is planned for the next meeting.
Two ordinances were passed on Tuesday night. The first defines the role of the council member who is in the position of liaison to each of the town’s boards. An ordinance also passed that increased the number of members on the library board from nine to 11.
Mr. Veal told the council that the state of Tennessee is moving forward with making improvements to the road coming up the mountain. It will include the major undertaking of slope stabilization and improved drainage. Paperwork has been filed so the state can do the work adjacent to town-owned property. To do that they have to determine that it will have minimal impact. A period of time was set aside for pubic comment and there was no opposition, he said.
The city manager said with baseball and softball season coming up soon, and work being done to make improvements on Marion and Driver fields, the town will need to use other fields for practice and games.