Monteagle: Urgent Water Rate and Wage Increases


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“We’re trying to head off the state setting the rates,” said Mayor Greg Maloof at the Jan. 29 Monteagle City Council meeting, explaining the need for the water rate increases approved by the council. “If the [Utility Department] shows a loss two years in a row, the state may step in. We’re on course for that.” The council also voted to increase wages for the police and several other departments to make earnings competitive with neighboring towns.

A 2 percent water usage-rate increase and $5 per customer monthly service fee will go into effect March 1. The service fee will generate $90,000 annual revenue. Alderman Nate Wilson said he initially objected to the service fee because the fee “disproportionately” impacted low-usage customers, but Wilson acknowledged the fee helped shift the revenue-need burden to second-home owners with typically low bills. Maloof does not anticipate additional rate increases for 2024-2025. “This [rate increase] should get us over the hump with the state,” Maloof said.

The “bulk” of money allocated for wage increases will go to the police, Wilson said. Monteagle used Municipal Technical Advisory Service data from the University of Tennessee to compare Monteagle’s wages with towns of similar size and neighboring towns competing for Monteagle’s workers. In addition to the police, fire department, street department, and codes enforcement officers will also receive wage increases drawn from the town’s “General Fund” budget. The financially strapped Utility Department has a separate budget, the “Enterprise Fund,” Maloof said, expressing “regret” only General Fund employees were considered for raises.

After long debate, the council approved on first reading the planning commission’s recommendation to increase the minimum-residence size for free-standing single-family homes from 600 square feet to 800 square feet. At present, R-1 residential has an 800 square feet minimum and R-2 and R-3 have a 600 square feet minimum. The planning commission “wrestled” with the recommendation, Maloof said, and decided the ruling should apply only to free-standing homes, not apartments and condominiums. Wilson argued Monteagle did not need to be concerned about tiny homes, 400 square feet or less, since only R-4 zoning allowed tiny homes and Monteagle had no R-4. Wilson said the ruling allowed residents to live in 600 square foot apartments, but “pushed people out of home ownership … The price cliff between building 600 square feet and 800 square feet is huge.” He pointed out Monteagle only had about a half dozen 600 square foot homes, but many homes in the 700-900 square foot range that began as smaller homes and were added onto. “It’s a ticklish situation,” Alderman Dan Sargent conceded. Alderwoman Dorraine Parmley insisted she wanted more discussion before deciding. Maloof said if the ordinance failed to pass on the first reading, discussion would end, whereas if the first reading passed, a second reading and public hearing would follow. The council approved the ordinance on first reading, with Wilson voting “no.” The first-reading approval would enable “the council to get more input” before deciding on final approval or denial, Maloof observed.

Commenting on the “unprecedented challenge” of the recent snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, Maloof said, “I’m not sure we’re done with winter.” If extreme winter weather occurred again, Maloof advised “if it’s not absolutely urgent you be out there, please stay home.” He cited several incidents, a car skidding underneath an 18-wheeler and an 18-wheeler truck blocking I-24 traffic towards Nashville. Maloof praised “the above and beyond call of duty” response of city employees. Police officers worked double shifts; the fire department helped remove downed trees and pulled cars out of ditches; and the utility department worked around the clock monitoring pumps and gauges and shutting off meters at residences with leaks due to frozen pipes. Although no main service lines burst, the town lost 800,000 gallons of water from residential leaks.

Steve Lamb with the Marion County Emergency Management Agency appealed to residents to respond to a four-question survey to collect data to aid the EMA in the required five-year update of the Hazard Mitigation Plan. Lamb stressed “revenue streams” availability hinged on the county having an updated plan in place, and resident data was key. The link for the survey is <https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MarionEMA24;. It can be found on the Monteagle website <https://www.townofmonteagle-tn...;.

A second survey, also available on the Monteagle website Mayor’s Memo, seeks input on what sorts of recreational opportunities residents would like to see in Monteagle. Ty Burnett, heading up the effort, said a public meeting would follow at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, March 7, in the city hall conference room to review the survey responses.

2024 February
2024 January
2023 December
2023 November
2023 October
2023 September
2023 August
2023 July
2023 June
2023 May
2023 April
2023 March
2023 February
2023 January
2022 December
2022 November
2022 October
2022 September
2022 August
2022 July
2022 June
2022 May
2022 April
2022 March
2022 February
2022 January
2021 December
2021 November
2021 October
2021 September
2021 August
2021 July
2021 June
2021 May
2021 April
2021 March
2021 February
2021 January
2020 December
2020 November
2020 October
2020 September
2020 August
2020 July
2020 June
2020 May
2020 April
2020 March
2020 February
2020 January
2019 December
2019 November
2019 October
2019 September
2019 August
2019 July
2019 June
2019 May
2019 April
2019 March
2019 February
2019 January
2018 December
2018 November
2018 October
2018 September
2018 August
2018 July
2018 June
2018 May
2018 April
2018 March
2018 February
2018 January
2017 December
2017 November
2017 October
2017 September
2017 August
2017 July
2017 June
2017 May
2017 April
2017 March
2017 February
2017 January
2016 December
2016 November
2016 October
2016 September
2016 August
2016 July
2016 June
2016 May
2016 April
2016 March
2016 February
2016 January
2015 December
2015 November
2015 October
2015 September
2015 August
2015 July
2015 June
2015 May
2015 April
2015 March
2015 February
2015 January
2014 December
2014 November
2014 October
2014 September
2014 August
2014 July
2014 June
2014 May
2014 April
2014 March
2014 February
2014 January
2013 December
2013 November
2013 October
2013 September
2013 August
2013 July
2013 June
2013 May
2013 April
2013 March
2013 February
2013 January
2012 December
2012 November
2012 October
2012 September
2012 August
2012 July
2012 June
2012 May
2012 April
2012 March
2012 February
2012 January
2011 December
2011 November
2011 October
2011 September
2011 August
2011 July
2011 June
2011 May
2011 April
2011 March
2011 February
2011 January
2010 December
2010 November
2010 October
2010 September
2010 August
2010 July
2010 June
2010 May