Approval given… City Council approves ordinance amendment on second reading

Published 12:26 am Monday, March 30, 2020

After Thursday’s emergency meeting by the Elizabethton City Council to hear first reading of a proposed amendment to Title 18 Chapter’s One and Two of the Elizabethton Municipal Code 2015, a public hearing and second reading of the amendment took place in another emergency teleconference meeting on Friday.
After no one took part in the public hearing portion, the City Council voted unanimously 6-0 to approve the amendment with sections 18-108 and 18-243 to the 2020 COVID-19 Authority and Response.
Wes Frazier was the only councilman that didn’t take part in the emergency meeting due in part to his job’s work requirement.
By approving the amendment, City Manager Daniel Estes now is authorized to develop any and all policies that are necessary to assist customers of the Elizabethton Water Resources Department with late fees, cut off and installation fees and the cut off of sewer services for the failure to pay a bill to the City of Elizabethton as the City Manager shall determine.
Estes said on Thursday that with the unprecedented times and financial hurt being experienced by citizens that the amendment would allow the city to help in these circumstances.
He also made it clear on Thursday that the passing of the amendment doesn’t allow for the changing of the amount a customer owes the city as normal billing will continue and customers are expected to pay those bills, but it can help with the fees and give some forbearance before services are actually disconnected.
The amendment only affected the water and sewer billing as the City of Elizabethton’s Electric System had already received permission from the Tennessee Valley Authority which regulates electricity to make adjustments and the council only had to approve a resolution to do so without making an amendment change.
Estes also took a brief moment for information purposes only to advise the council in regard to the sale of bonds that were approved in the February meeting which will be applied toward improvements at T.A. Dugger Middle School as well as other projects the city has ongoing.
“Our bond council has been watching the market and at the time we decided to go ahead with the sale, the markets were really favorable,” Estes said. “However, S&P had postponed our bond sale for a week and when that week was up was when the market had responded to the COVID-19.
“Markets have come back to a level of normalcy now. We have sent notices to the market to sell the bonds on Tuesday, March 31, but we can call that off if we need to due to changes in the market.
“We will try to move forward on Tuesday with the sale of the bonds.”
Mayor Curt Alexander then moved for an adjournment of the emergency meeting with no further business to discuss.

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