Lookout Mountain, Tn. Residents May Face Continuing Tax Increases

  • Thursday, June 13, 2024
  • Gail Perry

The budget for the town of Lookout Mountain, Tn. was passed on the final reading at the June commission meeting. There will be a five percent property tax increase this year, and Mayor Walker Jones said similar increases will probably continue each year since there are so few businesses in the town to generate sales taxes to fund services.

The $4,490,000 budget includes $200,000 for paving, and money for beautifying the Town Commons, which includes adding some new picnic tables.

Income in May included a $6,000 donation from the McAllister brothers for a restricted fund. State Street Aid, that comes from the state gas fuel tax was $5,168 for the month and will be added to the paving fund. Building permits in May were $18,867 and Chief Dale Taylor has started collecting fines from contractors when the building inspector fails to approve a first inspection and it has to be done again. The town received $640 for reinspection fines in May.  Chief Taylor said  he has been tracking the failures and the same addresses pop up monthly.

Parking income was down to $8,840 in May, but Town Consultant Brooke Pippenger is optimistic that this will increase once the Incline Railway begins selling tickets at the top station again. The town will also receive seven percent of the ticket price. Ms. Pippenger said that interest on investment accounts has gone up recently, and that has had a positive impact on the financial report.

Tower Point, the owner of the single cell tower in Lookout Mountain, Tn., has offered to buy leases of the cell phone providers from the town. Offers have been made yearly, but this time their offer was raised significantly, said Town Attorney Brian Smith, with the offer of $525,000. If the leases are sold, it would mean that monthly income would be lost. Commissioner Jim Bentley made the motion to table it indefinitely because things are changing quickly, he said, and it will be better to sit back and wait to see what new uses for the towers are emerging. There is some reason for the large offer from Tower Point, he said.

Another proposal came from the owners of property in Lookout Valley that is adjacent to a new high-end camp site that is under development. In the early 1920’s Lookout Mountain bought 19 acres along the creek. In the 1930’s, said Attorney Smith, it was sold to the Stoner family who gave the town the license to use the property indefinitely but for limited purposes. The new offer from owners of the campground is to deed two-and a half acres, of the property that is away from their primary location, and the town could use it any way they like. It could also be sold in the future as that property becomes more valuable. A suggestion is to build a shed for storing public words equipment. A motion to approve the real estate transfer passed unanimously.

With a turnover in the fire and police department, Chief Taylor told the commissioners that the new employees needed to be trained. He said that to prevent the scheduling difficulties created by training in Middle Tennessee, and at the same time, maintaining fire protection, the Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management and the Hamilton  County Fire Department offered to come up the mountain and do the training on site. Over a period of six weeks, five Lookout Mountain, Tn., officers finished the training. That gives them the ability to sit for the state firefighting certification test, he said.

Chief Taylor and Town Consultant Pippenger have recognized that the cost of everything has increased including uniforms. The town’s personnel policy was amended, which will increase the allowance that is given for police and fire uniforms. Approval was given so that $1,800 can be budgeted versus the previous $1,200. If an employee leaves before a certain time, the cost will be prorated and deducted from their final check. 

William Valadez, Public Works Commissioner, said that the department is busy now dealing with prolific amounts of brush, including trimming where needed along the streets and also picking up brush piles that residents take to the curb. He said that he has received some complaints about brush pick-up being slower than usual, and he asks for patience. It is due to available manpower and one truck that has been out of service. He would like for people to know Public Works has not forgotten, and that brush removal is done in rounds. A third truck for brush has been ordered, which will help.

Commissioner Valadez also asks that people pre-sort recycling before they bring it to the recycling center, rather than arriving with one large container. There is limited space there and it would help for people to drop it off and get out of the parking lot quickly. The regularly scheduled trash pick-up falls on Thursday, July 4. That day, the service will operate as usual, said Mr. Valadez, and there will be a public works holiday on the next day, Friday, July 5. The dumpster will be on the mountain the following weekend, Saturday, July 13. And he announced that the road striping has now been done and  patching the streets will begin once it is hot and dry enough.

Emily Haney, principal of Lookout Mountain School, is preparing for the next school year and has hired two new classroom teachers, Jeff Ashworth for the fourth grade and Barry Dillon for third grade. Rachel Keller will be coming on as the guidance counselor and the school will be fully staffed after two educational assistant positions are filled. Mrs. Kaeser and Mrs. Caughman have received a grant from the PTA to further their education to support students in English and Language Arts.

Summer library hours will be on most Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. If parents have noticed their child is missing clothing, a water bottle, a lunch box or other items, they are encouraged to check the lost and found display outside the library. Those items will be donated later in the summer if not claimed. Donations given at the fundraiser Night Out for Lookout will be used for a new, safer  playground from Playcore for the upper grades. It will  be installed in early July and is fully funded, said Commissioner of Education Karen Leavengood.

The dumpster behind LMS is for he sole use of the school, however recently, it has been filled with construction debris. Whoever is using is asked to stop. The town plans to look through the debris for names and will be watching the cameras around it in hopes of identifying the culprit.

In the absence of Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds Joe Hailey, Mayor Jones reported on the successful beginning of Commons Camp with large numbers of kids coming each day. And the Mountain  Munchery is now open from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.  Baseball All Stars have been in practice and just recently have begun playing, he said.

The town is hoping for a big crowd to come to the 4th of July parade and celebration at The Commons. A special events beer permit was approved for Paul Smith, owner of Nooga Taps, to sell beer that day.

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