published Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Rossville fee: New name, same cost

The Rossville City Council is giving a new name to its $6.50-per-month "Rossville administrative fee" that's paid by every resident with a water meter.

"That's vague," Mayor Teddy Harris said of the phrase. It may make residents wonder, "What does that [get spent] for?" he said.

So at its meeting this week, the City Council voted 4-0 to approve on first reading an ordinance to change the fee's name to "sanitary service charge." The ordinance spells out the only things for which the money can be spent: Cleaning streets and sidewalks, brush removal, trash collection, litter pickup, and repairs and maintenance of the sanitary sewer system.

"Probably 95 percent will go to pay for garbage pickup," Harris said.

The fee brings in about $130,000 a year, he said. The city contracts with Allied Waste Services in Chattanooga to pick up Rossville residents' trash for about $220,000 a year, Harris said.

Tom Sprinz has owned Best Jewelers at 203 Chickamauga Ave. in downtown Rossville for 27 years.

Told of the fee's pending name change, Sprinz said, "I don't know if it makes any difference to me."

The Rossville administrative fee has been in the news recently, because the council was poised to do away with it entirely and replace the revenue by raising property taxes. But council members abandoned the tax-hike idea after angry residents, many of whom live on South Mission Ridge Drive, flooded council meetings.

It's widely asserted -- though no one could provide hard figures to prove it -- that residents of the 110 or so homes that line the long ridgetop drive pay 80 percent of the city's taxes.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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