Samburg officials to withhold funds from Reelfoot Lake Tourism Council
Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 8:59 pm
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Samburg alderman Eddie Fickle doesn’t believe the Reelfoot Lake Tourism Council is serving the city’s tourism industry, so he has convinced the board of aldermen to cut off its funding of the tourism agency.
Fickle introduced a motion Monday night to stop funding the tourism agency and that motion was passed by the board by a 4-1 vote. Only board member Woody Cook voted against the motion.
The board’s action will halt the payment of hotel/motel tax revenues from Samburg to the tourism council.
In 2009, Samburg provided $6,320.63 from hotel/motel tax revenues to the tourism council, according to city recorder Carrie Hogg. For the first 11 months of 2010, the town paid $5,842.28 to the tourism council from its hotel/motel tax revenues.
“I really don’t see how they’re promoting businesses in Samburg,” Fickle said Monday night. “The money we’re spending is being wasted.”
Samburg businessman Al Hamilton, who attended Monday night’s hour-long session, told the board a private act was passed in 1989 setting up the hotel/motel tax for tourism development.
Fickle was joined by other members of the board in raising concerns about the city’s lack of representation on the tourism council.
Fickle described Sam-burg as the “Jewel of Reelfoot Lake” and said the town is the only municipality situated on the shores of Reelfoot Lake. The town’s economy is driven by tourism, and Fickle said he hasn’t seen any benefit in having the city send its hotel/motel tax revenues to the tourism agency. He even raised the possibility of having Samburg start its own tourism department.
“To me, I just don’t see the kind of response we should be getting,” Fickle said.
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the board formally approved the county-wide fire protection agreement, granted preliminary approval to a 2010-11 city budget and established two new city committees.
The city budget consists of four pages with total projected revenues of $131,550 and total projected expenditures of $146,930, leaving a budget shortfall of $15,380. The city’s spending plan shows an estimated beginning fund balance of $126,818 and an estimated year-end fund balance of $111,438.
Discussion of the rural fire protection plan dominated the first half of the meeting, with several board members questioning Assistant Fire Chief Ken Hogg about details of the subscription program.
“This is mainly for the county to collect the money and send it out to the fire departments,” Hogg said.
He explained the actual coverage area for the Samburg Volunteer Fire Department will remain virtually the same and said the county clerk will collect subscription fees. Aside from a 5 percent administrative fee, the rest of the money collected for rural fire protection will be divided evenly among six of the county’s rural fire departments, including Samburg’s department. The Union City Fire Department operates its own subscription service and the South Fulton Fire Department has opted out of the county-wide plan.
Hogg was reluctant to actually endorse the agreement, calling it “a start.” He did say the plan isn’t what his department wants but the plan is better than nothing.
Members of the board were provided copies of the lengthy plan and were told the county will collect the $75 subscription fee and that the Samburg Volunteer Fire Department will continue to collect the $500 fee charged when firefighters respond to a fire outside town.
After spending 15 minutes discussing the fire protection plan, the board then shifted its attention to creating a new public works committee and a new budget and finance committee.
The city’s new public works committee will consist of chairman Johnnie Johnson, John Vancleave and Fickle. Mayor Larry Gene Davis will serve as a non-voting member of both committees. The creation of the new public works committee was approved by 4-1 vote, with board member Cook voting against the motion after voicing his concerns about how the committee was created. The three-member committee is made up of three of the seven members of the board.
The new public works committee will have full supervision of city workers and will serve as an advisory committee to the board.
A new budget and finance committee was unanimously approved by the board, and will consist of chairman Juni Fickle, Cook, Fickle and Vancleave. The new committee is expected to be actively involved reviewing city finances as well as city ordinances and city property deeds.
In connection with the formation of the budget and finance committee, the board passed a motion to establish check signing rights for the city recorder and the chairmen of each of the two new committees. The board’s action on the check signing motion removes the mayor from being able to sign checks for the city.
In other action, the board:
• Was advised two of Hamilton’s lawsuits against the city will be discussed at the board’s February meeting.
• Approved a request to remove Fre Chief Guy Hogg’s name from the fire department’s checking and savings account and replace his name with his son’s name — assistant chief Ken Hogg. The request was made due to the elder Hogg’s illness.
• Discussed, but took no action, on the hours that City Hall is open and city recorder Carrie Hogg’s work schedule. It was revealed that Ms. Hogg will be leaving City Hall by the end of the month, a move that members of the board appeared not to want.
• Was advised that copies of the city budgets from 2008 and 2009 will be available for board members by midday Friday.
Absent from Monday night’s meeting was board member Gerald Reed.
Published in The Messenger 1.5.11