Mayor’s power to increase, tax rate to rise 5 cents

Dewain E. Peek/OCN screen shot

City Attorney John Meadows addresses the Board of Aldermen during the Monday, June 7 meeting.

By Dewain E. Peek,

OCN Editor

Livingston City Council ratified legislation that will increase the mayor’s power, and also voted to increase the tax rate 5 cents with action taken during the Monday, June 7 monthly meeting.

On a 5-1 vote, Private Chapter 23 (House Bill 1607/Senate Bill 1623) was ratified to authorize the Board of Aldermen to delegate the authority to hire, suspend, and discharge town employees to the mayor by ordinance.

Before the vote was taken, City Attorney John Meadows said, “This is the first step, once this passes, it will require an ordinance to be passed by the city in order for that authority to be delegated to the mayor.”

Alderman Chris Speck made the motion, and Vice Mayor Ken Dodson seconded. On the vote Aldermen Rex Dale, Speck, John Clough, Kelly Coleman, and Vice Mayor Dodson voted yes, and Alderman David Langford voted no.

A work session to discuss the necessary ordinance will be held before the regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 6, which will be held at Livingston Municipal Airport.

An additional 5 cents was added to the city’s property tax rate, with the hope to continue with some of the paving projects around the town. With a penny bringing in $9,180, the 5-cent increase would bring in $45,540 for a new budget of $1,508,913.

Vice Mayor Dodson made the motion to approve the Fiscal Year 2021/22 Budget with the 5-cent increase. Alderman Rex Dale seconded the motion.

On the vote, Aldermen Dale, Coleman, Langford, Speck, Clough, and Vice Mayor Dodson all voted yes.

In a work session on the budget, held immediately prior to the night’s business meeting, Mayor Hayes gave examples of how the additional 5 cents would affect property owners. He said the tax on a $300,000 home would go up $37.88 and that the tax on a $100,000 property would go up $12.49.

Second reading on the budget, along with approving amendments, is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, June 28 at City Hall.

Second reading approval was given for rezoning an area touching Railroad Street, Evans Street, South Church Street, and Goodpasture Street, from I-1 to C-2. Of the eight parcels involved, three are owned by the Town of Livingston and Downtown Revitalization Committee.

The Slum Clearance Ordinance was amended in order to change the wording to allow for demolition of property. Alderman Langford voted no.

An Unclaimed Property Ordinance was approved to address property that has been abandoned. Alderman Langford voted no.

Section 11-208-2-7 of the Zoning Ordinance was amended to remedy a contradiction in the ordinance concerning C-1 in which multi-family use was permitted and was also permitted upon appeal. The amendment changes it to just allow multi-family to be permitted upon appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

MTAS Police Management Consultant Rex Barton again addressed the City Council, this time via Zoom, about new policies and procedures for Livingston Police Department following funds having been reported missing at LPD.

Barton suggested that along with new procedures implemented by Police Chief Greg Etheredge that placing a limit on seizures of cash at $500 may be too low in light of recent legislation. He suggested making the limit $2,000.

After Barton said he had not looked at the existing LPD policies and procedures, Alderman Coleman made a motion to request Barton to compare and contrast the formerly existing policies and procedures with the new recommendations and report back to the Board of Aldermen and note strengths and weaknesses. Alderman Langford seconded.

“It makes no sense to me that you have someone come in from MTAS to review recommended changes to the policy and they haven’t even reviewed our current policy,” Alderman Coleman said.

Laschell Richardson was appointed to the Planning Commission to replace Rebecca Pincheon.

The low bid from Full Mower Service for a mower was approved at $7,499.29 to be purchased out of Airport Maintenance.

Livingston-Overton County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shannon Cantrell informed the City Council that 103 East Court Square has been awarded a facade grant in the amount of $12,500 for exterior restoration.

She also announced the Live in Livingston concert shedule, with Jake Hoot performing on July 17, Stacy Mitchhart on August 21, and Aaron Tippin on August 29. All three of the concerts will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Marcie Ackerman, Community Development Planner for Upper Cumberland Development District, gave an update on the flood mitigation funding application, which is still going through the bureaucratic process.

A petition for speed bumps on Evans Street was rejected after LPD Captain Ray Smith reported to the Board that surveillance on the street found that few vehicles use the street and that the average speed was 35 mph, though one had triggered the electronic speed reader at 61 mph, but he said it could have been an ambulance.

“I don’t think a speed bump is needed over there,” Capt. Smith said.

Before the meeting adjourned, Alderman Coleman brought up the possibility of changing the venue for Livingston Municipal Court and also opened discussion about compensatory time versus paying overtime at Livingston Police Department.