Samburg officials tackle mixed bag of issues from tourism development to delinquent taxes

Samburg officials tackle mixed bag of issues from tourism development to delinquent taxes
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
The first meeting of the new year for the Samburg mayor and board of aldermen set the agenda for what is shaping up as a busy year for city officials.
Monday night’s hour-long board meeting covered a wide range of issues, ranging from major changes with the Samburg Volunteer Fire Department to tourism development to housing development.
The board voted Monday night to proceed with legal action against Southshore Motel in an effort to force the resort to pay nearly $4,800 in delinquent hotel/motel taxes. Mayor Larry Gene Davis also informed the board there also may be criminal charges involved.
Only board member John Vancleave voted against pursuing legal action against the resort.
Davis said the city will consult with its attorney, Jim Glasgow Jr., concerning the delinquent taxes and will also meet with the local district attorney’s office.
At the start of Monday night’s meeting, Samburg Fire Chief Ken Hogg was authorized to spend about $15,000 for a new VHF radio system to bring the fire department into compliance with new FCC guidelines. The money will be used to buy a new radio repeater, antenna, cable and a new building to house all the new equipment.
Hogg explained the new radio system will allow his firefighters to communicate with other agencies.
“All the money will be taken out of the fire department fund,” Hogg told the board.
He told the board the new antenna will be set up on the Mt. Manuel Church site.
The board also approved a recommendation from Hogg to turn the fire department’s billing for fire calls over to the city. He said Hornbeak uses a collection agency to collect fire call bills and that city had a 100 percent collection rate in 2011.
“Our success rate in collecting this is terrible,” Hogg said.
He estimated the Samburg-Reelfoot Volun-teer Fire Department handles about 10 rural fire calls a year, but has problems collecting the fees from those calls.
One final recommendation from Hogg was to establish a new ordinance that sets a $500 per call fee for rural fire protection subscribers and a separate fee schedule for rural fire calls. Non-subscribers would have to pay a minimum $2,000 fee per fire call under the new plan.
Hogg provided the board with a detailed chart that sets up specific charges, per hour, for the use of equipment and manpower on a rural fire call.
For instance, a non-subscriber would be billed $575 per hour for the use of a fire engine and up to $56 an hour per firefighter on the scene.
The board will consider the first of two readings of Hogg’s proposed ordinance at its February meeting.
As part of his report to the board, Hogg also said the fire department is waiting to find out if it has been approved for a $64,620 grant to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus. He also informed the board the Hornbeak Volunteer Fire Department has donated its one-ton utility truck to Samburg.
“We are making some repairs and hope to put it in service soon,” Hogg wrote in his report to the board. “It will be used to carry equipment to fire and rescue scenes.”
Immediately following Hogg’s report, Samburg residents Bobby and Martha Crocker praised the fire department for its work. Crocker described the work of the volunteer fire department as “first class.”
From its fire department to tourism, the board approved a recommendation from board member Eddie Fickle to send four city representatives to participate in February’s Indianapolis Boat Show. Fickle, chairman of the city’s tourism council, said Samburg will have a booth at the 12-day Indianapolis event and will use its new brochures to promote the city.
In other action, the Samburg board:
• Approved a resolution that will allow the city to work with Community Development Partners on a Community Development Block Grant to finance affordable housing projects in the city. Community Development Partners will work with the city to apply for a 2012 grant that could provide up to $500,000 for housing development.
• Briefly discussed a proposal from Davis to borrow up to $50,000 from Reelfoot Bank to help get the city out of debt. According to city recorder Mary Swain, the city currently owes about $25,000 and only has about $4,000 in its General Fund. Davis said the city could borrow $50,000 from the bank at 5.25 percent with payments of about $585 a month. There were some questions about the loan amount suggested by Davis and there were some concerns over the decline in tax revenues in the city.
It was decided to have the city’s budget and finance committee review the loan proposal and report back to the board next month.
• Supported a recommendation from board member Woody Cook to install a four-way traffic light at the Highway 22 and Reelfoot Avenue intersection.
“It’s dangerous there,” Cook said. “We need it.”
Board member Johnnie Johnson agreed, saying, “I’m like Woody, we’ve got to have something.”
Davis will look into what is involved in having a light installed at the intersection and is expected to report back to the board next month.
• Approved a lone bid of $3,120 from P&M Construction to install a culvert at the new City Hall site.
There was also some discussion but no decision on the need to pave over the culvert and to install gravel across the new City Hall parking lot area. The board is expected to seek bids for the paving and gravel work.
• Approved a debt resolution recommended by the city recorder. The resolution establishes guidelines for incurring debt by the city and was drafted by the Tennessee Municipal League.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.11.12

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