City approves hiring The Retail Coach, wants county to pay half

OCN screen shot

Chamber Director Shannon Cantrell talks about “sales tax leakage”.

By Dewain E. Peek,

OCN Editor

Livingston City Council met Monday, Nov. 1 and considered items ranging from hiring a retail consultant to renting an “ice” skating rink for Central Park.

Need for a retail consultant was brought to the Board of Aldermen by Livingston-Overton County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shannon Cantrell.

She informed the aldermen that a TVA Community Inovation A-Team was formed to address “sales tax leakage”.

“Sales tax leakage is the money that could have been spent here but ended up being spent over county lines,” Cantrell said.

To curb the tax revenue going from Overton County, the A-Team interviewed retail consultants and chose The Retail Coach. The one-year contract would be $30,000 with renewal at $25,000 per year.

Mayor Curtis Hayes offered that the city has received $53,000 from the state as part of the American Rescue Plan and that money can be used for this purpose.

After being assured that the funds would not be from Town of Livingston taxpayers, Alderman David Langford made a motion to allocate the $30,000, and Alderman Kelly Coleman seconded the motion.

Alderman Coleman then asked Cantrell, “Is the county also going to be asked to belly up 30 grand? Are they at the table on the financial piece of this? Because this is a county-wide problem.”

He asked Cantrell if she was going to ask the County Commission for funds, and after some discussion, she said that she would.

“The way I see it, they should be paying half of this,” Alderman Coleman insisted.

Saying he agreed with Coleman that the county should pay half, Alderman Langford withdrew his motion, and Coleman withdrew his second.

Langford then made a motion for the city to pay half the fee of hiring the retail consultant and for the county to pick up the other half. Alderman Rex Dale seconded. On the vote, Aldermen Coleman, Langford, Dale, Chris Speck, and Vice Mayor Ken Dodson all voted aye. Alderman John R. Clough was absent.

Another item concerning sales tax was brought up by Ray Evans on behalf of Downtown Revitalization. He announced that tax rebate funds have been received in the amount of $470,310.21.

With Christmas around the corner, he explained plans to rent a large carousel and a mini Ferris wheel for the third Friday of Christmas in the Country and renting an artificial ice skating rink for three consecutive days in the middle of December.

“It’s not truly ice, it’s a glycerine type deal that actually simulates ice,” Evans explained.

He asked that expenditure of an amount not to exceed $25,000 be authorized from tax rebate funds to rent the carnival rides and the “ice” skating rink.

Mayor Hayes said the ice rink would be the weekend before Christmas, but though they are hopeful of having the rides on the third Friday of Christmas in the country, it could be on the second Friday of the event if it cannot be scheduled for the third Friday.

“The third Friday is what we’re hoping for,” Mayor Hayes said.

Also from tax rebate funds, facade grants of $12,500 each were awarded to Loren Crowder, who is in the process of purchasing 209 South Church Street, and also to Lindsey Walker, who has purchased 207 South Church Street.

Evans also asked that $750 be donated to the TCAT welding department and $500 to its construction department in appreciation for their contribution to new walking rails along a portion of North Church Street. The aldermen agreed.

Evans mentioned plans are being made for a Blues & Brews event for spring of 2022 at Central Park. The event would be sponsored by WCTE.

In other business, a resolution on Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund was adopted.

“Mr. Joel Parks come to talk about bonds, city bonds, maturing,” Mayor Hayes said in introducing the city’s accountant.

Parks informed, “Your current interest rate is just under 3.9%, this is guaranteed 2.05% for the duration of the bond.”

He said savings would be $482,500 in present value.

Resolution 2021-11-2 concerning Community Development Block Grant funds was adopted to agree to pay costs over the grant terms in a project to improve fire plug service and rehabilitate water lines.

Mayor Hayes pointed out that the project includes Evans Street, Goodpasture Street, 7th Street, East Cedar Street, and Reagan Street,

City Planner Tommy Lee informed the aldermen, “The bid just came in over budget.”

He went on to say, “Any overages are the responsibility of the Town of Livingston.”

First reading of Ordinance 2021-11-1 rezoning Wayne Rex property at 399 Celina Highway from C1 to R1 was approved.

Second reading approval was given for Ordinance 2021-10-2 to rezone two parcels of William Clark along East Main Street and Hillcrest from C3 and R1 to R2. The rezoning allows for construction of multi-family housing units, which is planned by developer Cody Campbell.

Second reading approval was given for Ordinance 2021-10-1 on open burning inside the city limits, after changing a typographical error concerning the distance from an open burn and a structure.

Livingston Fire Chief Rocky Dial said, “The state requires any open burning to be 200 foot minimum from any structure.”

Before the meeting adjourned, Mayor Hayes announced that if residents cut brush themselves, then the city will chip it and haul it off.

“If they hire a contractor, the contractor is responsible for taking that brush,” Mayor Hayes said.

The city doesn’t currently have an approved burn site to take care of brush, according to Mayor Hayes.