East Ridge Approves $13.7 Million Budget With No Tax Increase; City Now Facing Up To $4.9 Million To Finish Exit 1 Improvements

Friday, August 11, 2017 - by Gail Perry

The value of houses in East Ridge increased with this year’s property reevaluation by Hamilton County. For revenue from the tax to remain neutral for the county, which is required by state law, the certified tax rate was lowered to $1.3381. The city opted to match the county’s rate which will keep property taxes in East Ridge the same as the year before. Based on that rate, the East Ridge city council passed a $13,691,953 budget for fiscal year 2018 on second and final reading Thursday night.


A large project underway in the city is the reconfiguration of the Exit 1 interchange onto Ringgold Road and leading into the Bass Pro retail development. The project is being funded from three sources. TDOT will pay $1,500,000 and Hamilton County will contribute $500,000. East Ridge had budgeted for paying $500,000, but costs increased and the city is now responsible for a shortfall of $4,661,669. Because unexpected problems may occur, City Manager Scott Miller asked the council to approve borrowing $4.9 million to cover the difference. Extra dollars not used in the construction can be applied to beautification of the interchange and exit, he said. The council gave approval and awarded the bid for construction to C.W. Matthews Contracting Company in the amount of $5,753,565, which will come from the Border Region District reimbursements to the city. Mr. Miller said that the off ramp onto Camp Jordan Parkway should be open by November 2018.


A contract with Southeast Tennessee Development District (SETDD) was authorized to provide professional grant management services in regards to the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant. The city received the $998,711 grant for construction of a multi-purpose sidewalk on both sides of Ringgold Road between John Ross Road and the Kingwood Drive/Wimberly Lane intersection. SETDD will be paid $35,000 to oversee all paperwork and phases of the project. The city of East Ridge will be responsible for costs related to planning, design and engineering the project. This, too, will be turned in for Border Region reimbursement. This project is seen as a way to stimulate economic revitalization for the business corridor. The city manager was given approval to solicit Requests for Qualification for consulting engineering, design and inspection services and right-of-way acquisition.


Authorization was also given to contract with a planner/architect to develop a master plan for the McBrien School and surrounding seven acres. The city manager would like to create a “town center” at the location. Ideas include a pavilion that could be used as a farmers market which could be flooded in the winter for ice skating. A full-size basketball court, a new playground and a splash pad could be included. Uses suggested for the building are venues for special events and gatherings and for meeting spaces. Moving the animal shelter and some police and fire department offices into the building would free up space in other buildings that are now being used by those departments. Enough parking to service all the activities and plans for traffic to circulate must be part of the design, said Mr. Miller. He said an architect is needed to do a conceptual design so that the plan will make sense with attention to function and aesthetics.


Mayor Brent Lambert was authorized to execute a contract with CARTA to provide a limited transportation program for prequalified disabled and senior-eligible residents of East Ridge. It will be a door-to-door service with 48-hour advance notice, and will be available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Standing orders for everyday jobs can also be ordered. CARTA will handle all registration and will also train people starting the service so users will be comfortable using it. Cost for the city will be $30,000 which will be paid from grant funds available from the U.S. Department of Transportation through summer 2018. The cost to a citizen will be $2.50 for a one-way ticket and $5 for a round-trip to be paid at the time of service. For each ride, the city will pay $15 and will be invoiced on a monthly basis. Additional information will be available on the city’s website.


The approval of a change order for electrical work to bring power from the EPB pole into the Fire Station 2 that is currently under construction was approved in the amount of $4,853.


Rezoning of three properties was passed on second and final reading. 401 South Howell Ave. will be changed from R-1 Residential to O-1 Office District. Property at 5330 Ringgold Road will be rezoned from C-2 General Commercial to M-3 Warehouse and Wholesale District. Property at 1521 Burns Ave. was changed from R-1 Residential to C-2 General Commercial District.


Mayor Lambert recognized and thanked Peter Yakimowich for a $1,000 donation to the city for improvements to Pioneer Frontier Park. When he was starting his engineering company 20 years ago, Mr. Yakimowich told the council, East Ridge was one of his first clients that helped him launch the business. To show thanks and because he and his wife have a passion for children, he said, they would like for the money to be used for a splash pad at the park.


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