The new property tax assessor for Hamilton County, Marty Haynes, has informed the Town of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee that it will be asked to pay half the cost of doing property reappraisals which are done every four years. Town Consultant Dwight Montague said at the January commission meeting Tuesday evening that in fiscal year 2017 that amount will be $7,234.50. Additionally there will be a charge of $1,437 for every in-between year, with another $6,500 due the fourth year.
With no prior knowledge of these fees, they were not included in the budget. The charges for off-years are for appraisals done on new construction, but Mr. Montague said it is well known there are virtually no vacant lots in the town.
For decades, the Hamilton County Commission has paid these fees for the municipalities in the county, officials said. It has been understood that taxpayers in the towns and cities pay for the service through county property taxes. Mr. Montague made the recommendation for the commissioners to pass a resolution that would ask the County Commission pay for appraisals as it has in the past.
A letter also will be sent to the county highlighting the town’s position. There is not a written agreement between Hamilton County and the municipalities in it, but Mr. Montague said the county has paid the fee for decades, implying it is responsible. He said it is acknowledged that there needs to be a written interlocal agreement put into effect. The municipalities feel the fee is unfair because it will not be charged to property in the county, except for that which is inside one of Hamilton County’s towns or cities. This new fee would double what property owners in the municipalities pay even though the fee is already included in the County Commission’s budget, it was stated. Lookout Mountain, Tn. is already under duress because of losing the Hall Income Tax. Mayor Carol Mutter said that it seems there is “a war on municipalities.”
Expenses for the month of December are high, said Mr. Montague in the financial report, because the month has three pay periods and some significant expenses have been made for equipment used by the public works department. A new tractor was bought for $43,632 and the engine in the town’s newest garbage truck is being replaced for $20,000. Commissioner of Public Works Walker Jones said many repairs have been required since the truck was new, so it was decided to replace the engine rather than repair it again because the difference is only $2,000 to get a new one.
Leaf removal is nearly complete, said Commissioner of Public Works Walker Jones. Cleaning ditches and removal of brush will follow. Garbage service is scheduled as usual for next Monday, which is Martin Luther King Day, said Mr. Jones. The dumpster is scheduled to be on the mountain Saturday, Feb. 4, at the public works yard. The gates will be closed at 3 p.m. that day.
Statistics from the fire and police department were given by Commissioner Jim Bentley. In December the police received 73 calls, patrolled 3,247 miles and responded to 18 burglar alarms. Of those, 17 were false and one was classified as attempted burglary. Wires to the burglar alarm system had been cut but quick response by the police caused the person who did it to leave before being caught.
With the large amount of construction taking place on the mountain, Commissioner Bentley would like to caution all residents to be vigilant. Two thefts were reported during the month with one arrest made. The perpetrator, an employee of the house where one theft occurred, is now in jail and most of the jewelry that was taken has been recovered. Police assisted six citizens during the month and responded to 20 calls from 911. There were two auto accidents with no injuries and three disorders. In Tennessee there were nine medical calls and there were two assists in Georgia. Seven fire alarms occurred during December - six were false and one was caused by a shorted-out wire.
Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds Brooke Pippenger said that basketball has had a great turn-out this year. She said that parent volunteers are helping the coaches and are great assets. Games should begin toward the end of January. Problems with the bathrooms at the Commons have not been identified yet, said the commissioner. A plumbing company is scheduled to do an inspection this week and hopefully have repairs made before baseball and softball start in the spring.
The dates for upcoming events at Lookout Mountain Elementary were given by Commissioner of Schools Don Stinnett. The spelling bee is this week and the robotics team will participate in a regional competition on Saturday. The “beehive” after-school creative arts program headed by Toni Gwaltney will begin soon. Sessions will be on Tuesdays starting Jan. 24 through Feb. 28, and on Thursdays from Jan. 19 through Feb. 23. All classes are from 3-4:30 p.m. The book fair will take place Jan. 20 through Feb. 23, Grandparents Day is Feb. 24 beginning at 1 p.m. and Night Out For Lookout is that evening. Graduation for the fifth grade is on May 24.
Mayor Mutter encourages everyone to use the businesses that are on the mountain whenever possible.
The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission will be Feb. 14 at 5 p.m.