Community festivals threatened

Community festivals threatened

By: Donna Ryder Messenger Associate Editor

By DONNA RYDER Messenger Associate Editor Will small town communities be forced to give up their annual festivals? With budgets being eaten away by the increasing costs of doing business and towns facing additional insurance, it is a possibility. Troy Mayor Jimmie Hart in-formed the board of aldermen Monday night that the town’s insurance company — Tennessee Municipal League — has sent notice that special events will no longer be covered under the town’s umbrella policy. The problem started a year ago in the city of Selmer, where a drag race car got away from its driver during a parade and plowed into the crowd lining the streets, killing six and injuring more than a dozen. “That threw the fat in the fire for everyone else,” Hart said. Special events will now require special coverage, as well as a detailed explanation to the insurance company, including, but not limited to, information on what the event is, where it will be held, whether the city is a sponsor or co-sponsor, whether a third party is involved and whether that third party has insurance. Hart said he will attend a school on the matter in Jackson on June 10. He is unsure what the actual cost will be for each event. Troy has several annual events, including Troy Community In-volvement Days in July, the Pecan Festival in September and the Christmas parade. “Somewhere down the line, we may need to think about our special events,” he said. “I don’t know where it’s going yet.” Hart said though Troy doesn’t have an organized fireworks display, other local towns do and they will be affected as well. In other business, the board: • Voted to allow the Troy Community Club to have a yard sale Saturday at City Park. Alderman Jess Whitesides asked the mayor to make sure the club members are aware they need to get there early because the park is available on a first-come basis. • Decided to use the natural gas the city has in storage for the summer months in the hopes that the prices will go down before they have to purchase more. • Learned it is possible that state-funded grants will not be available for the 2010 fiscal year and any which might have been awarded for the 2009 fiscal year could be used by the state to balance the budget. • Heard that the state Legislature agreed that East Tennessee municipalities must post their charters on their Web sites no later than Jan. 1, 2009. The mayor asked Mark Watson, who serves as the town’s Web master, how difficult it would be to place Troy’s charter on its Web site. Watson said if he could get the file in a Word document, he could have it on the site within minutes. • Learned the town is in the process of an independent census. Hart said it is important that every person in the town is counted because state-shared funds are based on the census. He added the town gets $112.46 for each person who lives in Troy. The 2000 census showed 1,273 people living inside the city limits. • Received the animal control report, which included 24 dogs impounded in May. Two were adopted locally, two were claimed by their owners, four were euthanized and the remainder were shipped to other states for adoption. • Learned the mayor is starting to put together the budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year. He asked the board to consider ways to cut back on expenses so the town doesn’t have to raise its prices on services. “The town’s money comes in so slow. All that supplies the general fund is tax money. You can’t wait to get into a hole before you do something or you can’t get out of it,” Hart said. He said the town needs to tighten its belt and live within its means. “We watch every dollar we spend,” he said, adding the town has always done that, but needs to do more so now. “We can’t just keep giving pay raises.” • Heard that during the recent property reappraisal, the town-owned property which is rented out went up about 20-25 percent. He said the town must pay property taxes on leased property. • Learned from several aldermen that they have heard nothing but good comments about the city’s new street signs. • Heard from Watson that the plan to consolidate the fire departments in the county was well received by the budget committee, though alternate funding options are being considered. No action has been taken. Hart said commissioners he has spoken with are aware that the county needs to start somewhere and no longer ignore it. Aldermen Deanna Chappell and Edward Watson were absent. Published in The Messenger 6.3.08

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