published Friday, August 23rd, 2013

East Ridge keeps property tax rate

East Ridge residents' property tax rates will remain the same this year.

The City Council voted unanimously during its meeting Thursday to keep the rate at $1.4227 per $100 of property value. This does not include the county's property tax rate, which is an additional $2.7652.

Hamilton County Tax Assessor Bill Bennett certified the tax rate a little higher at $1.4295. This would not have made a major impact. For property valued at $150,000, the higher value rate would have cost a taxpayer an extra $10.

But during the last meeting, the council agreed not to change the rate. It became official with the second vote on the ordinance Thursday.

In its city manager search, the council voted 5-0 to bring back East Ridge's three city manager candidates for a follow-up interview. Should the three accept the invitation, the interviews will take place at City Hall on Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

The council also voted to pay for some of the candidates' travel expenses. The city will cover the cost of one night in a hotel and pay the mileage rate for driving to East Ridge.

The candidates are Hamilton County Judicial Commissioner Larry Ables; Hattiesburg, Miss., Director of Federal and State Programs Andrew Allard; and Fairview, Tenn., City Manager Andrew Hyatt.

In other action, the council voted to renew its letter of intent for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a "scope of work" study of the city's flooding problem. The study will not cost East Ridge anything.

The council voted 4-1 to allow the study, with Vice Mayor Jim Bethune voting against it.

The corps will complete a study of the city, which will include an estimate of how much it would cost to fix the problem and how long it would take to do so. Project manager Thomas Herbert said he will return to the council in October to present the findings of the study.

Then, the council will have to decide whether to allow the corps to conduct a second, "feasibility" study. Among other things, this study would identify the areas in East Ridge most affected by flooding and the best way to fix the problem. This may include actions such as modifying a bridge and buying out some houses.

East Ridge would have to pay half the cost of this study, with the federal government picking up the tab for the other half. The cost of the study is not known, but Herbert said it could cost $600,000 to $900,000.

East Ridge struggles with flooding, in part, because several creeks stop in the city limits.

"It's like a sink," Herbert said.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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