Despite a heavy white fog wafting around The Lodge at Amicalola, Ringgold City Council managed to seek a clear view for the citys future during its annual retreat Sept. 22-24.
That view highlights a variety of new and redefined ideas for the city such as researching marketing approaches to making Ringgold a regional tourist destination; expanding the boundaries of the downtown business district; revitalizing the Ringgold Economic Development Committee, and setting priorities for existing city projects.
Among those attending the three-day work session were Vice Mayor Bill McMillon, Councilmen O.C. Adcock, G. Larry Black and J.B. Petty and City Manager Dan Wright.
Mayor Joe Barger and Councilman Tom Clark were unable to attend the event.
The Lodge is a 57-room hotel sitting in a secluded state park area high above Amicalola Falls.
McMillon said getting the group into a setting like this allows them to get away from telephones and the day-to-day interruptions to concentrate solely on Ringgold. The group began at 1 p.m. on Friday and met for approximately eight hours Friday, eight hours Saturday and two hours Sunday before returning home.
Wright began the event with one historical quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thinking is easy acting is difficult. Putting ones thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world. He then guided council members into developing some goals for the city.
A variety of such goals came flying forward and written on a large blank white piece of paper on an easel: Petty encouraged identifying the wants and needs of the city and expanding the sewer system; McMillon suggested completing quality of life projects such as the Little General Family Childrens Park, Nature Trail; Adcock suggested pushing forward with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax sewer projects and paving the proposed downtown city parking lot; Black suggested expansion of sewer services south down Alabama Highway and completing the current sidewalk master plan.
This list was the backdrop of the event and council members returned and refined the list as the retreat pushed forward.
Much of Friday, led by Wright, highlighted the positive budgetary status of the city.
Revenues are continuing to increase and expenses are pretty flat, Wright said.
He shared that the city is running ahead of revenue collections in the current year budget by approximately 11 percent.
Petty expressed concerns over a few areas of activity where the city is spending more money than it collects such as planning and zoning.
Id be adjusting the ($40) fee, he said.
According to Wright, some request for changes property zoning require a $40 fee. He said the costs exceed the fee.
I dont know if you could charge enough (to offset) with the legal ads, staff costs, signs and letters to adjoining property owners, he said.
In addition to those costs are a $50 meeting fee for members of the Ringgold Planning and Zoning board.
Another area Wright pointed to as weak since expenditures are greater than revenue is the Ringgold Water Department.
Wright suggested the council may need to review its rates.
Adcock said if an increase is required smaller increases over time are received better than one larger one.
Wright also informed the council that Moccasin Bends sewage treatment facility will be increasing the rates it charges the city, meaning the city will need to review rates in sewer service as well in anticipation to the 2008 changeover totally to Moccasin Bends service.
The remainder of Friday and Saturday morning discussions rallied around some future sewer projects in the city including the Ringgold interceptor which will carry sewage from the Ringgold basin to the Moccasin Bend facility in Chattanooga, Ringgold southside sewer project and 10 Peavine basin projects with 8.1 million earmarked in SPLOST, special-purpose local-option sales tax for those.
They also reviewed ways to improve employee health benefits and provide more effective equipment and supplies to be used by city employees; performance of various departments and their activities; improvements at the Martha Denton Pool such as doubling the amount of furniture available for use, as McMillon suggested.
The council plans a review of uses of city facilities such as the Depot, pool and City Hall.
Much of Saturday afternoon and Sunday encompassed plans and hopes for the future of the city. The Catoosa County News will be covering more about these items in upcoming articles.
McMillon applauded City Manager Dan Wright for a tremendous job bringing together the materials and facilitating the event for the council.
There are not many towns in the state of Georgia that have that number of projects that we are trying to accomplish, McMillon said.
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