Councilman Jacky Cagle wanted to talk about the city entering into a three-year, $100,.000 contract with Retail Strategies to handle the heavy lifting of recruiting new business to the city. The council had previously passed a resolution giving the City Manager the authority to negotiate a contract with the Birmingham-based firm.
Councilman Cagle pointed out the fact that City Manager Andrew Hyatt and the City Treasurer and Deputy City Manager Thad Jablonski have the qualifications to handle the potentially unprecedented economic development headed toward East Ridge.
“I’d like to do this in house,” Cagle said.
Mayor Brent Lambert and Vice Mayor Marc Gravitt said they have confidence that entering into an agreement with Retail Strategies will benefit the city, and that Hyatt and his staff have enough on their plate running the daily operations of the city.
“We didn’t hire Mr. Hyatt to do the job of economic development,” Gravitt said. “It wouldn’t be fair to him to put this burden on him in addition to running the day-to-day of the city.”
Cagle said the city should not have entered into a contract where the city paid on the front end and there were no performance incentives for the firm to produce results.
City Attorney Hal North agreed. He said he negotiated the contract with Retail Strategies and prepared counter proposals.
“My concern,” North said, “if (Retail Strategies) does nothing and breach the contract, (the city) is out $48,000.”
Lambert said he understood there are “inherent risks.”
“But, if (Retail Strategies) does nothing, they will be ruined,” Lambert said.
Gravitt pointed out that the fee the city pays Retail Strategies could be reimbursed by the state under Border Region Act provisions. He also said that if Retail Strategies brings one new business to the city, “it would pay for itself.”
The council approved on second reading an ordinance that would prevent “clustering” of payday lenders in the city. It was modeled after a measure adopted by Chattanooga to use zoning laws to keep these types of businesses from concentrating in one particular area.
On first reading the council approved the rezoning of 18 acres off Frawley Road from agricultural to residential to permit the construction of 57 single-family homes with zero lot lines. There was no opposition to the rezoning during a brief public hearing prior to the vote.
The council approved a resolution that would pay off the $1.6 million Bond Anticipation Note by having the Tennessee Municipal League issue bonds through the Public Building Authority of Crossville, Tenn. The term of the bond is 20 years.
The council approved once again amending the current fiscal year’s budget to balance revenues with expenditures, and adopted a resolution putting a new community service program in effect for people convicted of offenses in Municipal Court. That program could be up and running by next week, officials said.
During the agenda session prior to the regular meeting, the council heard from the the city’s fire and police chiefs about the merits of the city adopting an ordinance dealing with a “special gathering permit.”
Police Chief J.R. Reed told the council that two recent large gatherings _ one at a motel and another at commercial building near Germantown Road _ had caused “some issues.”
Chief Reed said a car was set on fire at one incident. He suggested adopting something along the lines of what Chattanooga has in terms of getting permits for large gatherings so that fire, police and codes could be aware.
Fire Chief Mike Williams said that the city already has an ordinance in place that prohibits an excessive number of people to gather in buildings. “Had we enforced it we wouldn’t have had a problem.”
Chief Williams said the existing ordinance would allow a codes officer to have a “counter” at the front door. When the number of people allowed in a defined space is met, nobody else would be allowed in.
“I’m just afraid if we begin issuing special permits, people will take advantage of it,” he said.
Vice Mayor Gravitt suggested the two chiefs get together and “figure it out,” instead of the council taking up the issue.