$27,265,597 East Ridge Budget Avoids Tax Increase; Measure For Storefront Improvements Is Tabled

  • Tuesday, June 18, 2024
  • Gail Perry

The East Ridge budget that will start on July1, 2024 and end June 30, 2025 was passed unanimously on the council’s first vote. The budget totaling $27,265,597 will have no property tax increase, and the rate will remain at $1.25 for every $100 of assessed value, the same as in the 2024 budget.

City Manager Scott Miller said that business in the city is booming, more housing is being built, and more businesses are operating in the city so there is no need to raise taxes at this time.

Highlights of the new fiscal year 2025 budget include no rate or permit/license increases. The budget does not draw upon the fund balance, which remains healthy at $12,739.909, said the city manager. There will be a three percent cost of living adjustment for all employees and a 10 percent increase in medical insurance premiums. All employees on the anniversary date of hire will be also be eligible to receive a merit  increase up to two percent based on their performance.

Three existing firefighters will be promoted to fire fighter engineer and there will be the addition of an Arena attendant for the Camp Jordan Park Arena. One part-time animal control officer will be reclassified from part-time to full-time status. There also is the elimination of four positions in various departments. All sworn police officers will have a pay raise - those with the higher ranks receive a lower amount than police officers. This adjustment is being made to be commensurate and competitive with other cities in Hamilton County.  Vehicle and equipment replacements, will total $517,563, and the capital improvement fund allocates $1,437,976 for street resurfacing.

The second and final vote on this budget will take place at the June 27 council meeting.

The 2024 budget was amended to account for unexpected expenses and unplanned grants received during the year,  

Additional regulations regarding lighting and storefront displays and design guidelines for  multiple-tenant monument and directory signs were discussed. The intent is to increase safety and security. One goal is to protect against the negative effects of excessive and flashing lighting to protect against distracted driving. The proposal also has new guidelines for storefront displays and the size of signs in windows to increase visibility into the buildings for the police and fire personnel.

The proposals were first presented to the planning commission which recommended some amendments, and business owners filled the council meeting asking for others. P.J. Patel, representing the business owners, said that most of the buildings in East Ridge are old and it would cost owners a significant amount of money to renovate in order to meet the new requirements. He said the owners want to promote safety in addition to  promoting their businesses.

Mayor Brian Williams responded he had already heard the concerns, and said that the intent was a safety precaution for businesses and customers. The council members agreed that the proposed changes could result in unintended consequences that could negatively impact the businesses in ways that the council might not be aware of.  The vote was to table the issue and add points that Mr. Patel and the council discussed before voting on the revised ordinance. 

The atrium in city hall is getting a remodel. The fountain will be removed and replaced with the East Ridge city seal that will be cut into the ceramic tile floor. The bid from Chattanooga Flooring Center for $22,002 was approved.

Renovation of the East Ridge Community Center is being done with a Local Parks & Recreation Fund  (LPRF) grant. Kimley Horn and Associates will do the architectural  design and grant administration. Since that agreement was made, the city has been notified of additional  requirements by TDEC. An existing conditions survey including underground utilities is needed and preliminary construction plans such as grading and drainage plans must be provided. ASA Engineering and Consulting has been chosen to provide those services in an amount not to exceed $14,000.

At the next council meeting on June 27, the council will see a presentation of the plan to renovate Camp Jordan Park. That plan has now been completed by Victus Advisors. Assessments, including the structural integrity and the use of asbestos and lead paint,  has been done for McBrian School to determine what should be done with the building - rehabilitate it or tear it down. The result of these studies will also be presented on June 27. 

The owner of a home that is adjacent to 5.8 acres of city-owned land on Jordan Run Road has requested to purchase the property that is entirely in the flood zone and it can never be built on, but would be fenced to protect the home from development surrounding it. At the next meeting, the council will  decide whether to sell the property.

 

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