The Signal Mountain Commission has approved an amendment to charges for special services from the town-owned water company. Fees established include a $50 charge, in addition to the cost of te water itself, for the use of a portable water meter to be used with fire hoses and hydrants, to fill a swimming pool more quickly than a garden hose. There will also be a charge of $50 per week for a utility that wishes to have use of a portable water meter. There will be a $25 charge in addition to the normal fee for same day service activation, $35 for a returned check and $25 to turn the water back on.
Having these fees scheduled will allow the water company to address the requests when they are made, said Town Manager Boyd Veal.
A vote approved continuing to use the Orange Grove Center to provide contract workers to operate the town’s recycling center. The agreement is from July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2024 for the cost of $3,676 monthly, with the amount not to exceed $44,120 annually. Residents are encouraged to use the recycling center and not the transfer station for getting rid of cardboard boxes. It was noted that wearing masks at the center is optional.
Town Manager Veal said that paving for the year has recently been completed. A contract with Volunteer Highway Supply was approved for striping the new roads. Their low bid was $13,700 for 25 line miles of street striping and seven centerline miles.
The Occupational Safety and Health Program Plan, which is updated each year, has been developed and was approved by the council. This creates and implements rules and regulations of a comprehensive plan to keep employees safe. It will be executed by Town Manager Veal who was appointed to be the safety director who will execute it. This week, Signal Mountain’s insuror, Public Entity Partners, will do a risk survey and assessment of the town to identify any issues.
A new administrative hearing officer for Signal Mountain is needed since Charles Poss, who has been serving in that capacity, was elected mayor. The administrative hearing officer handles zoning and property maintenance codes and is more effective than these cases being handled by a codes inspector who can give only a maximum fine of $50. The administrative hearing office can give a fine of $500 for the same violation. Two applications have been received for the position, but a vote was postponed because two council members were absent. Mayor Poss said that the town is allowed to contract with the state of Tennessee, temporarily, on a case-by-case basis if services are needed before a new administrative hearing officer has been appointed.
Special Projects and Compliance Manager Sam Guin has been researching and collecting information about updating the town’s website and email systems. It can be done either by hiring a company or by having a knowledgeable staff member design the systems. The current systems are considered obsolete, he told the council. He suggested to have a specialist in the fields come to a council meeting to answer technical questions. How to do that without giving that company or person an unfair advantage in case they want to bid on the project was discussed. It was decided it would be better to have an expert speak who is not looking for business, just a person who could provide informational services.
The town manager said that he is wrapping up the budget drafted for 2021-2022. With the termination of the Hall Tax and the end of the grant that helped establish the new fire station, he said that this will be a very tight year. There will be recovery assistance funds available from the federal and state governments, which will help. The water system with all of its needs will qualify for some of these grants that will have restricted uses.
Plans for the sidewalks in Old Towne have been completed and, before submitting the plan to TDOT for approval, a meeting will be held with engineers to go over the options available to better align plans with the money available from the grant that is being used to pay for the sidewalks.
Council member Vicki Anderson reported that ground breaking for the addition to the library took place last week. The library is using guidance from the American Library Guidelines as to when it will reopen. It is an on-going discussion, said Council member Anderson, and it is hoped that it can be soon.
Other town facilities are making plans for opening. The pool deck is being rehabilitated and a period of good weather is needed to finish, said Mr. Veal. He said that applications for lifeguards have been received, along with a couple of applications to staff the gym. The recycling center is open and wearing masks there is optional.
Public Works Director Loretta Hopper will get information from the state for the process that would be required to build a cross walk across Taft Highway at Pruett’s. The plan was proposed by Signal Mountain Middle/High School students Olivia Glover and Adrian Anderson at the last meeting. Their estimate for the crosswalk, without using warning signals, is $12,000 to $15,000. And Mayor Poss said he would like to revive the plans for building a bike-ped path between city hall and Pruett’s. He suggested having a community fundraiser for the project, which he believes would get a lot of use.
Although the town commission and various boards and group meetings are now being held in person, resident Claire Griesnger put forth the suggestion of continuing to have audio/video access to the meetings. She cited citizen participation in the Zoom meetings during the shutdown caused by the Czovid pandemic. The city manager and Sam Guin will investigate what that would entail and the cost. If feasible, the videos will first be done of the commission and board of zoning appeals.