The East Ridge City Council voted to spend a million dollars of budgeted taxpayers’ dollars last night during its first regularly scheduled meeting of September. But the measure that drew the most debate was a resolution characterized as a “concept” where no money was spent at all.
Before debate on Resolution 2705 -which proposes city and Hamilton County property tax dollars from the Jordan Crossing development be spent exclusively on improvements in Camp Jordan Park – Councilman Jacky Cagle said he couldn’t support it.
“I’m going to be up front with you; I’m voting no,” Cagle said. “I thought the whole idea of (using Border Region increment tax dollars) was to use it to build the fire department, the police department and let the whole city grow. I just can’t vote for that.”
Mayor Brent Lambert said the measure is contingent on Hamilton County going along with the “concept” of earmarking its property tax dollars from the Jordan Crossing development for park improvements. For every dollar the city spends in the park, the county would match it.
“There is no doubt that we need improvement’s in the park,” Lambert said.
City Manager Scott Miller said that this year the city received $110,000 in taxes from the Bass Pros Shops, the first business to be built inside Jordan Crossing development. Next year he expects the city to receive property taxes from two additional businesses being built in the development – Chick-fil-A and Hampton Inn.
“This can be done in stages,” Miller said. “As it builds, we can go back to the county … As further development occurs, then we can bond again.”
He said that he had been analyzing some numbers. The property taxes East Ridge could collect on three buildings in Jordan Crossing could generate between $150,000 and $175,000 in the near future. That figure would double if Hamilton County “partners” with the city. That money could be used to pay the debt on a 20-year bond of as much as $7 to $8 million.
Miller reiterated that the resolution was a “concept” to demonstrate to Hamilton County officials that East Ridge wants to move forward.
“If the county is giving 50 percent of the cost, they will want to have some say in what we do out there (Camp Jordan Park),” Miller added.
Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd, who represents East Ridge, addressed the council during the “Communications from Citizens” portion of the meeting. Boyd said that he had held a community meeting in July and that none of the citizens in attendance were in favor of designating property taxes to pay for improvements in Camp Jordan Park.
Boyd said he would support the measure if it’s truly the will of the citizens of East Ridge. Boyd said that he was very accessible and urged citizens to contact him either by phone or e-mail to express their views on the issue.
Mayor Lambert responded by saying that almost all citizens that he has spoken with are in favor of major improvements to Camp Jordan.
The resolution passed, 3-1, with Councilman Cagle casting the lone no vote.
The council passed resolutions authorizing the purchase of six police cruisers outfitted with computers and hardware. It also authorized the purchase of police radios. It also authorized the purchase of a truck for the fire department along with radios, air packs and oxygen bottles.
The council authorized the purchase of a new street sweeper for $221,000.
The council voted to move forward on various grants for improving drainage on the west end of Ringgold Road and installing sidewalks. The project’s total cost is about $2 million. The city’s portion of the funding is $380,000.
The council authorized the city manager to move forward with borrowing $4.9 million through the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund. The money is to be used to finance the Exit 1 reconfiguration project that has begun on Interstate 75.