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BY KEN LITTLE
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given the green light to a proposed sewer project along East Andrew Johnson Highway within the Tusculum city limits.
Mayor John Foster told commissioners Monday night at the regularly scheduled Board of Mayor and Commissioners meeting that he had received notification from the EPA approving the project, which is estimated to cost about $1 million.
The work would be partially funded by a $485,000 matching federal grant. The city would be responsible for covering the remaining expenses associated with the sewer project: about half the total cost.
Foster said he signed a contract with the EPA for the project last week on behalf of the city.
No timetable has been set for the work to begin.
The project will involve installing an underground wastewater treatment plant on a two-acre tract of property inside the city, and also installing trunk sewer lines related to the treatment plant.
Plans call for the underground plant to have the capacity to treat 15,000 gallons of wastewater per day, city officials stated late last year.
The sewer project is designed to provide sewer service to several businesses along the East Andrew Johnson Highway corridor that runs through the City of Tusculum.
Most of these businesses currently use septic tanks for sewage disposal since sewer service has not been available, Mayor Foster explained.
It is hoped, Foster said, that the sewer service will serve as an incentive for new businesses to locate within the city and generate sales tax revenues.
Several steps must be taken before the project becomes a reality, the mayor explained.
"The next thing we will do will be to do soil-testing on the property where the new treatment facility is (proposed)," he said.
A meeting will also be held for property-owners along the U.S. 11E corridor that runs through Tusculum, Foster said.
"We just want to get everybody together that owns the property and say that's what we want to do [install the sewer lines]," Foster said.
The signed contract will be sent back to the EPA. Meanwhile, city officials will continue to explore project options, Foster said.
ELECTION DATE CHANGE?
In other business, Commissioner Barbara Britton presented a proposed ordinance to change future city elections to coincide with the November general election.
Tusculum currently holds elections for commissioners on the first Tuesday in June in odd-numbered years
By changing the city's election date from the first Tuesday in June on odd-numbered years to the first Tuesday in November on even-numbered years when general elections are held, the city could realize a savings of between $3,500 and $3,800 per election, Britton stated.
"It will save money," she said. "Tusculum [currently] has the off-year elections when there's no other elections. Tusculum is responsible for that [financially]. When we go to (even-numbered years), we're not out a dime."
Britton recently received a copy of the proposed ordinance, which was prepared with the assistance of Pat Hardy, a municipal management consultant with the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service.
Mayor Foster suggested commissioners take a month to review the ordinance, and consider adopting it at the board's scheduled Nov. 19 meeting.
WHAT WOULD BE REQUIRED
In order for the even-numbered-election-year plan to take effect, the terms of the three current Tusculum city commissioners would have to be extended, it was explained.
Under Tusculum's city commission form of government, three commissioners are elected to staggered four-year terms.
After each municipal election, the three commissioners choose a mayor and a vice-mayor from among their number to serve two-year terms in those offices.
Foster was re-elected a commissioner in June 2009. Under current Tusculum ordinances, his term as commissioner would be up for election again on the first Tuesday of June 2013.
If the ordinance is passed, Foster's term would be extended 17 months, to the countywide general election in November 2014.
Britton and Vice-Mayor Alan Corley were elected to four-year commissioner terms in June 2011. Under the new ordinance, their terms would be extended 17 months from June 2015 to the general election of November 2016.
"The commissioners to be elected in the November general elections and every four years thereafter shall be elected for a four-year term of office," the proposed ordinance states.
HICKORY RIDGE WORK
In other business, Foster said work has been completed to install a top layer of pavement and streetlights in a section of the Hickory Ridge Subdivision.
The project went into foreclosure earlier this year, and the property is now in the hands of Greeneville Federal Bank.
The bank paid for the work, Foster said.
"That was the best way out for us," he said. "It looks good."
The Hickory Ridge Subdivision, along Holly Creek Road, first received approval from the Tusculum Planning Commission in 2009.
FIRE DEPT. OFFICERS
In other action, the board formally approved the recently elected 2013 officers of the Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department.
They are Stephen Harris, chief; Justin House, deputy chief; Matthew Stanley, captain; Phillip Mullett, 1st lieutenant; Michael New, 2nd lieutenant; and Gene Mullett, 3rd lieutenant.
Other elected officers are Cindy Shelton, medical lieutenant; Judy Mullett, secretary; and Alan Corley, safety officer.