​Monteagle Council Considers Midterm Alderman Election; Approves Budget

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the June 26 meeting, the Monteagle Town Council voted to appoint Chris Ladd to fill one of two vacant alderman seats. The motion to appoint John Knost to fill the other vacancy failed to receive a second.
The vacancies resulted from the resignation of Alderman Rusty Leonard and Alderwoman Delores Knott. Interested candidates were required to attend the May meeting. Only Knost and Ladd attended.
Alderman Kenneth Bishop initially made a motion to appoint both Knost and Ladd, but Mayor David Sampley said the candidates needed to be voted on separately. Bishop’s motion to appoint Knost failed to receive a second. Bishop seconded Vice-Mayor Jessica Blalock’s motion to appoint Ladd, and the motion received unanimous approval.
But following the vote, Bishop withdrew his second.
“In that case, we can’t do anything,” Sampley said. The vote was declared invalid at the meeting. City Recorder Debbie Taylor later consulted with MTAS (the Municipal Technical Advisory Service) who said the vote stood.
Following up on the suggestion of a visitor, Sampley will contact the election commission to check on the legality of a midterm election to fill the remaining vacancy. “It would be expensive,” Sampley cautioned.
The council approved the 2017-2018 budget. The budget calls for the purchase of two new police cruisers. Police Chief Virgil McNeese said the state contract listed the price as $29,310 each, noting that last year the cost was $35,000. The council approved the purchase at the 2017 contract price.
Fire Chief Mike Holmes said he only received two replies to his request for quotes on the repair of engine number one. Taylor said two quotes were sufficient if an effort had been made to get three quotes.
The council approved Holmes’ recommendation to have the repair done by the Monteagle Rocky Top Truck Stop, the low bidder at $55,045. “I prefer local, and they’re equipped to do it,” Holmes said. He noted the department would have easy access to equipment on the truck if needed.
The council also approved Holmes request to enter into an Automatic Mutual Aid contract with Pelham Valley Volunteer Fire Department.
“We need an additional contract to get an upgrade on our ISO rating,” Holmes said. The department already has a contract with Sewanee and in the past had a contract with Tracy City, “but it was very one sided,” according to Holmes.
The council approved on second reading rezoning to accommodate a concrete plant even though negotiations fell through with the company considering locating in Monteagle. “We may be able to find another concrete company,” said realtor Jimmy Jernigan. “There’s no concrete plant on the mountain. There’s a definite need.”
Codes Enforcement officer Earl Geary said he’d prioritized eight out of 19 property maintenance issues. The owners of two structures had completed the legal process necessary for the city to proceed with demolition, but Geary stressed, “The city won’t be reimbursed for the cost of the demo until the properties sell.
“If the city chooses to perform maintenance, such as mowing the grass on neglected property, the city could place a lien on the property to recover expenses,” Geary said.
A visitor proposed the city hire an officer to assist Geary. “He’s overwhelmed. These old houses have been here for years. If we want the town cleaned up, we need to do something.”
“Think about what you may need so far as help is concerned and get back to us,” Sampley advised Geary.
Updating the council on progress in selecting an auditor, Sampley said the city’s accountant recommended accepting the $17,000 bid from BCS accounting services. Last year’s audit cost $35,000. The board approved the recommendation.
Blalock heads up the Parks and Recreation Department. Bishop asked if Blalock serving as both an alderman and department head violated policy. Taylor will research the question with MTAS.
The alderman discussed availing themselves of MTAS training.
The council meets next Monday, July 24.