By CHRIS MENEES
Hornbeak aldermen have given final approval to a vicious dog ordinance with some teeth.
However, they stopped short of approving a proposed ordinance that would have initiated a licensing program for dogs and cats.
Like many towns across Obion County, Hornbeak has experienced a growing problem with animals running at large, but there has also been the added dilemma of some dogs posing a threat to residents.
Tuesday night, the Hornbeak board of aldermen approved the second and final reading of a vicious dog ordinance which amends current municipal code by adding a section regarding vicious dogs. It specifically names several breeds of dogs which are included and outlines stringent requirements for having those breeds.
According to the ordinance, it will be unlawful to own or harbor any vicious dog in Hornbeak unless the owner strictly complies with the standards and requirements being set. Those regulations include registration, use of a leash and muzzle, confinement, the placement of “beware of dog” signs, proof of insurance and identification photos of the vicious dogs to be provided to the city recorder.
Before the vote Tuesday night, alderman Debi Jerden said she believes the ordinance is too strict. Alderman Robbie Riley made the motion for the ordinance to be approved, drawing a second from alderman Paul Truett, and it was approved by a vote of 5-1. Ms. Jerden cast the lone dissenting vote.
After the first reading of the vicious dog ordinance last month, Hornbeak Mayor Dennis Dozier told aldermen to expect more information at their next meeting about dealing with the town’s dog problems. Consequently, he also presented them with an animal licensing ordinance for consideration Tuesday night.
“We have a dog problem. We have a big dog problem,” Dozier said, adding he receives complaints from all over town.
Dozier also noted there is a state law against allowing dogs to run at large.
The licensing ordinance presented by the mayor sought the licensing of all of the town’s dogs and cats and sought to establish a licensing fee schedule.
After the licensing ordinance was read, Ms. Jerden said she was “strictly against this,” drawing agreement from aldermen Randy Phelps and Truett. Ms. Jerden said the suggested fees were too high and Phelps said residents would not comply and there would still be unclaimed dogs running at large. Alderman Don Petty said he understands the vicious dog law but cannot approve the licensing ordinance.
Some aldermen said they felt the licensing ordinance would not solve the dog problem and Dozier said he has been inquiring about enforcement options that involve picking up at-large animals. However, some aldermen also expressed concerns about enforcement costs and Petty said the proposed licensing fees would not cover the cost of pickup.
The proposed licensing ordinance died for lack of a motion from the board.
Despite cold weather conditions and light sleet which fell just as the meeting started, several Hornbeak residents were on hand to hear the dog discussion and make suggestions.
In an animal-related matter, Dozier announced a rabies vaccination clinic will be held April 23 in Hornbeak.
In other action during Tuesday night’s hour-long meeting, which was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and with prayer led by Living Word Church pastor Archie Larry, the Hornbeak board:
• Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance which will allow city employees to seek elected office and serve on the town’s board of aldermen.
The first reading of the ordinance was approved at the board’s February meeting and the second reading was tabled in March after a vote where three aldermen voted to accept it. Ms. Riley and Truett had both abstained from the vote and it was announced the ordinance did not pass last month because it needed four favorable votes from the seven-member board. Two aldermen were absent at that time.
However, Dozier announced Tuesday night that the second reading of the ordinance in March had actually passed since the vote only required a majority from those present at the meeting. Since it was tabled, though, it was brought back for another vote Tuesday night.
Vice Mayor Lynn Finch made the motion to approve the second reading of the ordinance and it was seconded by Petty. It was approved 4-0, with both Ms. Riley and Truett abstaining.
The ordinance was recently proposed after a question arose about a possible conflict with Truett serving on the board and also working for the town. Truett does contract labor for the town and works to maintain its sewer system. He is retired from Goodyear and runs the Hornbeak Water Utility District and he is also now a certified sewer collection agent.
• Voted 6-0 to accept a change to the town’s charter to reduce the number of board of aldermen members from seven to five, as well as to change the monthly meeting date to whatever works best and not necessarily the first Tuesday of each month. Dozier said the bill making the change was recently signed by Gov. Bill Haslam and it must be sent to Secretary of State Tre Hargett before it becomes law.
• Received a draft copy of a budget for 2013-14 and approved the first of three required readings. Dozier said this is the first time a preliminary budget for the town has been done as early as April.
• Tabled action on the town’s possible partici-pation in the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System for its employees, with some aldermen express-ing concerns about the town’s being able to afford its required contribution.
• Tabled action on a suggestion from Dozier to increase city recorder Joyce Truett’s pay as a result of her recent completion of the rigorous Certified Municipal Finance Officer course. Before it was tabled, there was lengthy discussion among aldermen about the amount of the suggested increase — from $12.86 per hour to $15 — and some suggestions about a lesser increase and seeing what the proposed new budget would allow.
Dozier said the pay increase would be a reward for Ms. Truett’s achievement in becoming a CMFO, which he likened to her having earned a master’s degree for her particular job, and he said she handles many duties for the town on a daily basis. He also noted he spends a considerable amount of time helping at City Hall and the town might need to consider hiring someone else to help.
• Accepted a low bid of $175 per mowing from Ed’s Lawn & Garden for mowing of the city cemetery. Three bids were received.
• Learned the next phase of the town’s sewer project is under way and going well.
• Was informed the town’s police car has been repaired following a recent mishap involving a deer.
• Learned a list of delinquent taxes will soon be published in the newspaper.
• Was told the town’s spring cleanup will be held April 15-22.
• Learned speed limit signs will be soon be erected on Mulberry Circle, where residents have requested a 20 mph speed limit. Dozier said he also needs input from residents of newly-annexed areas about speed limit signs to be erected in their neighborhoods.
• Was informed the Tennessee Department of Transportation will be doing a study on the highway about the placement of school zones and lights.
• Was asked by Dozier to consider the possibility of a helipad being built on a hill near City Hall for use as a landing site by medical transport helicopters. He has a lengthy list of guidelines for placement of a landing site and said the town may be able to secure some donations for funding, if there is interest.
• Learned the next monthly board meeting will be May 14, a week later than normal.
Alderman Leon Walden was absent Tuesday night.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 4.3.13