Red Bank Interim City Manager John Alexander has received the certified property tax rate from Hamilton County which is $0.9923 per $100 of assessed value of the property. That rate has been approved by the state of Tennessee. The city will set the actual rate for the coming year. Commissioners have the option of using the certified rate or increasing it. There will be a public hearing to decide if .9923 will be kept or if it will be increased.
Commissioner Ruth Jeno said that the average property in the city increased in value by 40 percent with the recent reappraisals by the Hamilton County assessor’s office. Some values she said increased as much as 60 percent. Homeowners with increased appraisals will already be facing a substantial tax increase and that will need to be taken into consideration when the final tax rate is established, she said. She added, "We need to look at it closely in order to be responsible with our citizens’ money."
Commissioner Pete Phillips said Red Bank is in the middle of many projects including choosing a new city manager and establishing a strategic plan for the old Middle School property. Wages need to be realigned for all employees who provide excellent service to the city and other requests have been discussed for the upcoming year. He said the commissioners need to first get their priorities aligned and figure how much it will cost to do what they decide on before setting a tax rate. Then he said it will be important to let residents know what their money will be used for. All of that cannot be done with the .9923 rate, but he said, “I’m not for increasing it a full 40 percent.”
Mr. Alexander said that 10-20 years ago Red Bank sold its sewer system to WWTA. When that was done assets were sold but also the liabilities were sold. Rick Causer, representing the city to the WWTA, has reported that beginning Oct. 1 Red Bank’s sewer rates will be reduced to match other municipalities.
The city is trying to determine equivalent property to use for the land swap with the National Parks Service that was used to build Red Bank High and Middle School. That property used to be baseball fields and the agreement with NPS is to replace it with property that has a dollar-for-dollar value and retain some active recreational use. Public Works director Tim Thornbury has found that the 14 acres which held the old baseball fields is currently worth $1,455,000. The vacant property at 3715 Dayton Boulevard where the old Red Bank Middle School was located is now worth $3,770,000. He said five acres of that site could satisfy the requirement of the land swap if some active recreational use was put there. The city owns around 13 properties including city hall and the police services building. It would also be possible to use some of that property for the land swap, said Mr. Thornbury. The NPS will have to evaluate and approve the land that is used, and Commissioner Phillips said it would be smart for the city to do its homework such as getting current values before sending the proposals to the NPS.
Another option that has been offered to the city is to purchase land from the Swope family that has been offered for $195,000. That land is on a steep slope and could be suitable for limited recreational use such as mountain biking or passive sports such as hiking rather than a community gathering space such as a playground.
Amendments were made to both the Red Bank animal and fowl ordinance and the zoning ordinance that together will allow more residents to keep chickens. The space needed in a yard was reduced from two acres to one-half acre to qualify. The zoning was changed to allow an additional permitted use in R-1 and R-1A zones. With the changes, around 50 percent of residents can qualify to have backyard chickens versus five percent prior to the changes.
The commission approved several grant applications on Tuesday night. A resolution passed to allow participation in the Public Entity Partners “Safety Partners” matching grant program. The city receives $2,000 with this annual grant that is used to buy safety equipment for the police department. Red Bank will be required to match that amount.
Red Bank was recently turned down for a multi-modal grant. TDOT will be opening up another round for this grant and Mayor Hollie Berry said that priority will be given to previous applicants which could work in favor of Red Bank. She said that items that are believed to have caused the rejection will be removed or altered such as building a pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks. The first step will be to send a letter of intent to apply to TDOT. The detailed engineering and drawings will not have to be done until October, she said.
Authorization was given for an agreement between Certified Maintenance Service and the city of Red Bank for cleaning services at the city hall and police department in an amount not to exceed $13,140.
New hours for the Red Bank recycling center have begun. It will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Consultant Honna Rogers with Municipal Technical Advisory Services (MTAS), which assists municipalities in Tennessee, came to the meeting to help the commissioner narrow down the candidate pool for the city manager position. She will guide the city though the process.
Civility Training has been scheduled for the Red Bank Commissioners on Thursday.