Council has special meeting on high school debt, school budget

The school board approved it unanimously on Monday, but a few City Council members have questions about a proposed resolution of a dispute over sales tax revenues and high school debt so they have called a special meeting for this evening (Thursday evening).

The special City Council meeting today starts at 6 p.m. in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom at 200 S. Tulane Ave.

See this story for more information.

School considers honoring former RMS principal, buying fiber optic cables

The Oak Ridge Board of Education will consider naming the Robertsville Middle School Gymnasium in honor of former RMS Principal Thomas W. Hayes, who is also a former City Council member.

The board will also consider buying fiber optic cabling for the city and schools fiber ring at a total cost of $298,752 as part of the city and school’s fiber ring initiative. The recommendation is contingent on the city and school approval of a memorandum of understanding and the city’s approval of the remaining splice costs.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the School Administration Building at 304 New York Ave.

Guest column: Chamber hopes to continue working with city on business development

Throughout the years, the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce has been a valuable asset to the community, supporting local businesses and promoting new business development in our city. For more than 20 years, the city of Oak Ridge and the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce have had an agreement through which the Chamber works in partnership with the city to attract new business to the community.

Appropriately, during these challenging economic times, the city is looking at all of its economic development relationships and asking itself whether or not it’s a good investment. We recognize the city’s efforts to conserve public dollars and have made a proposal to City Council for the formation of a better and less expensive partnership for the future. [Read more...]

Letter: Endorses candidates who favor less spending, smaller government

To the Editor:

I would like to recommend that citizens of Oak Ridge vote for the following three candidates for the reasons shown.

I have studied their publications, and have spoken with them independently.

I am not a member of any party, nor will I ever be. I continuously monitor the actions of our local government and vote on the best choices, considering the current issues. I encourage all my friends and subscribers that take the time to read this letter to vote for these people.

Trina Baughn—City Council

I have long waited for a Council candidate with such a fresh outlook and real understanding of what the real causes are of the pitiful economic situation that Oak Ridge is experiencing because of one fiasco after another.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read her published statements in some articles in January, so I asked for a private meeting with her to query her deeply on her views. I was so impressed with her responses that I have worked with her on her campaign since February. She is the real deal.

She wants to:

  1. lower spending,
  2. lower property taxes, and
  3. lower the debt.

All this, without sacrificing quality of life. This can be done. Her web site is

Leonard Abbatiello—School Board

The ongoing rift between the city and the Board of Education is an embarrassment for the citizens of Oak Ridge. Leonard needs no introduction, as he was a long-time member of City Council. His campaign slogan says it all for me: “Uncommon Sense.”

What we used to think of simple common sense, is sorely needed today, and I believe Leonard will be a big factor in getting us back on track, controlling the educational system’s budget and ending the senseless rift.

John Ragan—State Representative District 33

As mentioned, I am not a member of any party. However, I am voting for Ragan because he is the best choice as it regards Oak Ridge (and Anderson County). Although I do not like the “bonding” of our legislators around party lines when the rubber meets the road, I am voting for John because I truly believe he will work to:

  1. make government at all levels smaller and more effective;
  2. improve transparency in government for average citizens, especially on financial matters; and
  3. make government more open and responsive to its citizens.

Robert Humphries

Oak Ridge

Loudon company wants to use Alexander Inn as assisted living center

A Loudon company has proposed converting the historic but run-down Alexander Inn in Oak Ridge into a $6 million, 60-unit assisted living senior center.

Family Pride Corp. has requested a 90 percent, 10-year tax property tax break on the three-acre site. Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board members will be briefed on the proposal Monday and consider recommending it to City Council during a special Oct. 11 meeting.

Family Pride would work with InSite Development Corp. of Knoxville to redevelop the two-story hotel, which was built during World War II as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project.

[Read more...]

Guest column: Oak Ridge needs debt policy, debt ceiling

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

At under 45 minutes, this month’s City Council meeting may have been the shortest meeting they’ve ever held. While it was a nice change from the normal three-hour meetings, I wonder why council didn’t take the opportunity to discuss anything of significance given our city’s various, not to mention serious, problems. After all, they are limited in how often they meet to accomplish anything. Yet, they were perfectly content to accomplish nothing.

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about our city’s debt—a bill that is quickly approaching $200 million. I implored the city to develop a debt policy that would establish a debt ceiling, a debt reduction plan, and parameters for borrowing.

[Read more...]

Council considers water, sewer rate increases tonight

During a special meeting tonight, the Oak Ridge City Council will again consider significant increases in the city’s water and sewer rates.

Council members postponed a decision during their regular April 9 meeting to allow the public more time to study the most recent proposed rates.

The most recent proposal calls for raising total water and sewer rates between 28 percent to 35 percent, depending upon a variety of factors, including the number of total gallons used. There would be a minimum monthly increase of $7 for the first 2,000 gallons of water and sewer, but the increases could be much larger for bigger customers.

Council will consider those rate hikes during a special meeting at 7 p.m. today in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom at 200 S. Tulane Ave.

Also on the agenda is a special report by Linda M. Daugherty of the University of Tennessee on the need for a new Oak Ridge Senior Center.

[Read more...]