Loyall facing limited options for revenue

By Mark Bell - For the Enterprise

Loyall city leaders continue to look at options for future revenue to keep local government going. A major problem seems to be there are not that many places left to look.

During Monday’s regular monthly city council meeting, Mayor Clarence Longworth again challenged council members to find money to address the city’s needs in a way that “gets everybody paying their fair share.”

Because of the increase in exemptions and the loss of property values in the city over the years, the amount of tax collected from that source now “barely pays our insurance,” the mayor noted.

One such idea was suggested last month by Paul Collins, supervisor of the city’s waste water treatment plant, when he proposed the council apply a $5 maintenance surcharge to the monthly bills.

When Collins brought the idea up again this time, there was no outspoken resistance from the council but also no apparent enthusiasm to back it either. That was when the mayor joined in the discussion a little more forcefully.

He reminded the council of the number of residents who were actively looking for ways to avoid “paying their fair share” to keep the city afloat. The mayor mentioned the number of people who seem to find ways to get outside residences so their cars can be licensed and tagged in Tennessee, which also helps them avoid paying local taxes or surcharges for their insurance.

He thought it might be a worthwhile idea to use voting records as a way to identify people who might be avoiding their civic duty in this way, “and that way we don’t have to double-up on people,” Longworth said.

After months of discussion on the subject and searching for more funding sources, Longworth told the council they would soon be provided with specific numbers “of how much we’re down in each department” in a way that would project into the coming year, though members receive detailed reports of the balances and activity in each fund every month.

When it comes to increasing revenue by imposing taxes or putting fees and extra charges on city services, the mayor sympathized with the council’s plight. “Nobody wants to hear it. I hate to be the one to say it,” was how Longworth put it.

But it is “time to do some serious studying,” he continued. “Think about what we can come up with that is something everybody can pay,” and Collins’ idea of $5 per month on the garbage bill was a sensible place to start, the mayor believed.

“Try to come up with something reasonable we can all live with,” Longworth pleaded.

In other action, the council discussed some street issues. They agreed to a plan removing the one-way designation from Chad Street between Bailey Street and the approach to the new bridge on Wilkerson Street that connects to the Old Loyall section.

Improved visibility at that location means the one-way is no longer needed and first reading of a new ordinance to officially make that change will be held at the March meeting.

The council unanimously approved an idea to dedicate the bridge as a memorial to native Greg Cornett, killed in action in Vietnam, as well as all other local veterans from that war.

A specific dedication for the memorial will be determined before the resolution is presented to the county judge-executive for support. As they also will need a legislative sponsor, resident Pete Vowell said since his conversation with state Rep. Rick Nelson he understood state representatives are limited to naming memorials such as this only twice per year.

Fire Chief Vern Guffy was asked about the recent number of sinkholes discovered around town. He had counted “more than five but less than 10” and said none of them seemed to be very deep and likely posed only a few minor hazards to be fixed.

The mayor noted one of the ways the city was trying to save some money was by borrowing county equipment for snow removal rather than routinely running their own expensive backhoe.

By Mark Bell

For the Enterprise

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