In order to continue providing the same level of service that East Ridge residents are accustomed to getting, Police Chief Stan Allen requested that the council approve hiring two additional police officers. The department currently is facing a shortage of manpower, partially attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. City Manager Chris Dorsey told the council that if the request was approved, a budget amendment would be required for the remaining three months of fiscal year 2020-2021 because it was not included in the budget.
The council approved spending approximately $43,100 for April through June this year to fund the two additional officers. That includes $33,900 for salary and benefits and $9,200 for equipment. The department needs to hire officers who are already Tennessee P.O.S.T. Certified and can begin working immediately, said the chief. The starting pay for each officer (counting benefits) will be $67,801.
The cost of two more police for a full year will be $136,600 for salary, benefits and miscellaneous expenses. The city will also need to purchase two new police vehicles. The price of two Ford Interceptor SUVs is $67,044. They will need to have extra police equipment that will add $34,722 more to the cost. The equipment can be paid for with money from the city’s drug fund.
The city manager told the council that when approving these additional police, there must also be a commitment to fund the positions in the future. Chief Allen will start advertising for the two new officers.
In November the council approved making renovations and ADA enhancements to both the East Ridge City Hall and to the Fire and Police Service Center. Assistant City Manager Kenny Custer reported that two bids had been received and that the staff recommended accepting the one from Integrated Properties for an amount not to exceed $291,589. The auditorium where court and council meetings are held will be closed off in order to secure the area. The main front entrance will be made handicap accessible. An attorney work space and permanent permit window will be added, and lockers will be refurbished. Many of the changes to the building will be ADA upgrades, he said. In the police and fire service center, a significant sewer drain problem will be repaired and bathrooms will be remodeled.
An amendment passed on the final reading at the Thursday council meeting that changed the zoning ordinance to allow liquor stores to locate in multiple zones. After the approval, stores that sell liquor and wine can operate in zones C-1 Tourism Commercial District, C-2 General Commercial District, C-4 Planned Commerce Center District, C-5 Neighborhood Commercial District and C-6 Low Traffic District. Two of these businesses will be allowed to operate in East Ridge. One large liquor store will be on the eastern side of East Ridge and another can be located on the western side of town. City Manager Dorsey told the council that as of today, 25 individuals have picked up application forms for the stores. The applications are due to be returned on March 15. After credentials and background checks are done on the applicants, two winners will be chosen by lottery.
Rezoning was also approved for property at 6205 Ringgold Road. This parcel of land had been zoned both R-1 Residential District and M-2 Light Industrial District. The owner, Rawter Realty, requested a change for the property to the single zone of C-2 General Commercial District. Approved for the change was given on first reading, following the planning commission’s recommendation.
Each council member made an appointment to the East Ridge Personnel Board. The reappointment of Pamela Beard was made by Mayor Brian Williams, Robert Jones, made by Vice Mayor Mike Chauncey, and Doris Rogers by Council member Jacky Cagle. Council member Esther Helton appointed Frances Pope and Council member Andrea Witt chose Debbie Moorefield.
The city will donate 27 surplus ballistic vests to the town of Lookout Mountain, Tn. Chief Allen said that a waiver was written by City Attorney Mark Litchford and has been signed by Chief Chuck Wells from Lookout Mountain to acknowledge that the vests are out of date.
City Manager Dorsey told the council that some paving is allowed with COVID-19 relief money. He plans to submit for approval several main roads in East Ridge that are in need of resurfacing.
He also said that the city is proposing to close McDonald Road at the state line. This road originally was intended to be a neighborhood street, not a thoroughfare. Despite the road being posted that no trucks are allowed, many have started using it as a bypass to Mack Smith Road. The matter will be taken to the planning commission for approval before it is brought to the council for a vote, Assistant City Manager Custer said.
After working for the city of East Ridge for 42 years, Trish Perry has retired from the position of Human Resources Director. City Manager Dorsey said everything that she did for the city is appreciated and that the city and co-workers wish her a happy retirement.