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Elizabethton City Council echoes support for Economic Director, animal shelter

The Elizabethton City Council conducted its regularly-scheduled February meeting via Zoom on Thursday to address one piece of old business and 15 new items for the month.
In old business, the Council held a public hearing and second reading on an ordinance to amend the Elizabethton City Schools fiscal year 2020/21 budget amendment #1 for the Federal Projects Fund. With no one to speak during the hearing, the ordinance passed by a 7-0 vote.
The budget’s first change resulted in $1,587,434.02 added to the initial budget moving the total to $3,417,047.02 which didn’t change the City’s General Fund Transfer.
In new business, the board voted unanimously to approve a resolution to allow the City of Elizabethton to participate as a plaintiff in the Drug Dealer Liability Act Lawsuit and to approve a retainer agreement with Branstetter, Stranch, and Jennings PLLC to represent the City of Elizabethton.
In order to participate in the lawsuit, cities and counties had to pass a resolution by their respective governing bodies. 
Council approved an annual support services contract with Doe River Technology Services, LLC. Councilman Michael Simerly questioned whether it would be better to just hire someone to provide the services internally to which City Manager Daniel Estes advised that the amount of money being paid DRTS might only cover someone who could do general computer maintenance and repair.
Several first readings of ordinance amendments were also heard and approved unanimously.
The Council approved a grant agreement for the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities Grant applied for in January of 2020 for the planned purchase of the city’s new Triple-Combination Pump Fire Truck.
The USDA grant will provide $155,300 toward the purchase price of $495,000 bringing the total owed to $339,700 the city would have to pay out for the truck.
A community development block grant (CDBG) for water line rehabilitation requested by Johann Coetzee was also unanimously approved which allows for the continued aggressive program to rebuild water lines using operating funds as well as grant funds to overcome a very high water loss in its water distribution system.
The grant seeks $630,000 of CDBG funds and in turn, would have to provide local match funds of up to $85,909 which will be budgeted in the Water/Sewer Fund.
Council also approved the first reading to adopt the 2018 International Building Code, Residental Code, Existing Building Code, Plumbing Code, Mechanical Code, Fuel Gas Code, and Energy Conservation Code.
This was needed to bring Elizabethton in line with everyone locally as it is required to stay seven years current by the state. It does not impact those projects that have already had permits pulled on with the biggest changes coming in residential fire protection.
The board had a couple of late-added agenda items brought forth by Councilman Jeff Treadway.
The first one came from a recent joint economic development with Carter County Commissioners. Treadway suggested the council needed to decide if there was an expression of interest to move forward in the hiring of an Economic Development Director that would serve both the city and county governments.
After several minutes of discussion, Treadway made a motion that the council based on a joint discussion with the county request the Joint Economic and Development Board develop a job description, salary estimate, location for housing, and performance objectives as a minimum that can be presented to the joint governing bodies of both boards.
The vote came in 6-1 on the motion with Councilman Wes Frazier being the lone dissenting vote.
In the second added agenda item, the Council shared thoughts on the recent Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter meeting. During that meeting, Shelter Board Chairman Michael Barnett stated that he hoped that both governing boards would continue to show support to the shelter and the services they provide while they work through the 501c3 process to become a non-profit.
Council members echoed that the services provided were valuable services to not only the city but the county and voiced support for the shelter.
The Elizabethton Beverage Board convened prior to the Council portion and approved a temporary beer permit to Frankie Bailey, owner of the Coffee Company, for a Valentine evening event to be held in conjunction with Riverside Taphouse from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13.