Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 17, 2013

One annexation approved over Souza objections

By Jim Young
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — Two annexations were scheduled to be on the Crossville City Council's regular October agenda, one of which seemed headed toward an angry discussion by Councilman Pete Souza.

That more controversial annexation was pulled from the agenda by the property owner and a second annexation on Lantana Road at Dunbar Road passed with Souza voting against it.

Souza feels that future annexations should not be routinely approved simply because they are requested, but said he felt they should be looked at from a business standpoint considering current city taxpayers and to determine if the city would make enough money from services and taxes to pay for the cost of providing city services to new annexations.

Souza explained during a work session earlier this month he brought the matter up to “provoke thinking” on the issue and expressed concern about empty commercial properties on West Avenue and other areas near the downtown part of Crossville. He said his concerns were with what he described as the current system of annexations having no planning method and being entirely “developer driven.”

The Garden's annexation that was removed from the agenda would have tied the back side of the development to the new section of the Northwest Connector currently under construction between Highway 70 N and Sparta Highway.

The Lantana Road annexation would include a stretch of the road to connect to property owned by Eldridge Properties. While they don't have immediate development plans for the property they have requested annexation for access to sewer.

Souza expressed concern about the fact that the annexation would make the city responsible for the maintenance of the traffic light at Lantana and Dunbar. According to Souza that would cost the city some $1500 a year. In addition, Souza said the city would have to pickup the cost of seven streetlights. The annexation would skip 11 lots along Lantana Road to annex an undeveloped lot.

“It doesn't appear to me that it is a very good financial decision to approve the annexation,” reasoned Souza, “and I will not support this annexation.”

The Lantana annexation was approved with Souza voting no and the remaining four council members voting in favor.

Councilman Souza's recommendation to update rates charged to septic haulers to dump at the city's wastewater treatment plant was approved by the council. Souza was concerned that some of the rates charged to dump septic waste from outside the city were actually lower than the city charged to its own inside city limits customers.

Souza said before there were four rates for for such services and he wanted to simplify it to just two rates, one for inside city limits and one for outside. The new rates would make it cost $20 to dump a 1000 gallon load from inside the city and $35 to dump a similar load from outside the city limits. City staff said they track where the loads come and require a signature from the customer along with an address and phone number to make sure the proper rate is charged.

Some increase in revenue is expected by the action even though the amount charged is less than surrounding city's, some of which do not accept septic dumping at all. It has been six years since a change in the rates charged.

Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham commented, “This is not a big enough increase to put anyone out of business."

New city manager David Rutherford recommended the change adding that the city will track the program for the next year and see if any other changes are needed. Souza's motion passed unanimously.

Mayor J.H. Graham proclaimed October 18 as Breast Cancer Awareness Day encouraging citizens to “paint Cumberland County pink” on that day. The proclamation points out that advances in early detection and treatment means a 99 percent survival rate for 5 years for localized breast cancer.

Crossville Chronicle publisher Pauline Sherrer, a cancer survivor, accepted the proclamation from Graham. Sherrer commented that not just women can be diagnosed with breast cancer but men also. She encouraged men as well as woman to be aware and for everyone to wear pink on October 18.