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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Busy work session follows swearing in of two new city council members.

The new Crossville city council went to work less then an hour after two new members were sworn in, taking part in a work session to discuss business coming up on the regular December agenda Thursday.

Crossville city council discusses business in work session.

One of the items discussed during the work session was the reinstatement of the monthly work sessions prior to the regular monthly meets as a way to better understand the subjects to be decided during the meetings. It appears that the work session will return based on the discussion during the meeting and the council will also consider returning the regular meetings to Tuesdays again.

Council spent a lot of time discussing the application to the state for a site development grant to help pay for a construction ready pad for a building up to 200,000 square feet. Council heard from the Chambers Brad Allamong and city engineer Tim Begley on the finer points of the project.

City engineer Tim Begley goes over the site plan for the proposed building pad.

The site proposed is a 20 acre space in the Interchange Business Park on the north side of the park. The property fits the needs well for a 200,000 square foot building with loading dock and necessary parking. A company employing some 300 would be expected to use the property. The grant application is due Friday December 9 the day after the council meeting to approve the application and some of the decisions may need to be made after the application is submitted.

The grant provides $500,000 of the cost toward the project with a minimum match of $214,000. The cost of the project is estimated at $914,000 and additional match gives more points in the grant competition. A geotechnical study will be part of the project to help determine if any issues with the site may change the cost estimates.

New councilman J. H. Graham suggested that a turn lane into the industrial park was needed and thought the city should begin the process of requesting such work from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Graham also wanted to see the interest of the county in working with the city on the project that would benefit both governments.

The council spent time talking about the process to hire a new city manager and appeared split over a quick decision versus pushing out the decision into the new year and even seeking additional applicants. Mr. Graham called the decision one of the most important we will make for a couple of years,” but added that the holidays would be a busy time and make it difficult to spend the time necessary reviewing the applicants.

Councilman Scot Shanks said he felt the longer the city waited the more candidates they would lose to other jobs or lost interest.

A decision could come during the regular meeting.

Mr. Graham is proposing a special census of the city to increase the amount of revenue from so called state shared taxes that are paid based on population. The city has done several such special census over the last 20 years and they have been cost effective. Mr. Graham said that while such a census could cost $40,000 to $50,000 to have done, the city could gain $500,000 in additional revenue before the next census.

City staff will be studying several ways to try and determine how many new residents are in Crossville including water connections, voter registrations and building permits since the last census.

Councilman Graham is also wanting the city to look at the possiblity of a tax freeze ordianace as allowed under state law. The rule allows those who are 65 and older and who have income within the limits to freeze their tax bill at the time they apply even if tax rates and assessed values increase. The benefit must be applied for each year.

Councilman Danny Wyatt discussed the possibility of city provided health insurance for the city judge and city attorney. There are some possible issues with the proposal that may have to be worked out if possible.

City attorney Will Ridley briefly discussed changes to the city's sign ordinance. According to Ridley recent legal rulings have changed some of the things the city can do but the rulings have not given specific rules for the city to follow. A new sign ordinance will be worked on over the next couple of months.

Mr. Ridley also talked about a number of cases the city is involved in through the administrative hearing process. A number of buildings have been boarded up and secured by city codes staff and fines have been assessed. According to Ridley the process of cleaning up derelict and dilapidated properties is expensive and it sometimes difficult to recover the money the city uses.

Ridley said the council may have to decide how much funding they want to invest in cleaning up some city properties and other legal actions that may be needed to recover their costs.  

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