published Saturday, April 26th, 2014

East Ridge Council makes appointments to board

The East Ridge City Council appointed seven people to its newly re-established Industrial Development Board on Thursday.

The appointees are Ruth Braley, James Citty, Barton Burns, Kelley Steele, Estes Cocke, Curtis Baker and Matt Pinley.

Pinley was the only member appointed who did not appear on the ballot attached to the council agenda packet posted online. Former Public Safety Director and Interim City Manager Eddie Phillips was also listed as a nominee, but was not appointed.

The board, originally established in 1979, was dissolved in July 2009, according to Tennessee Division of Business Services records. Phillips was listed as the board's registered agent at the time of its dissolution. Phillips retired from his positions in August 2013 after more than 20 years of service with the city.

This board is necessary for the city to gain "border region" status under the state's "Border Region Act."

The border region legislation, passed by the General Assembly in 2011, would allow municipalities that border other states and have interstate access to apply for a "border region" classification with the Department of Revenue. With this classification, the city could take in 75 percent of state sales taxes generated within a designated "retail district."

The city created its 950-acre retail district along Ringgold and Germantown roads, as well as around exit 1 on Interstate 75, in fall 2011.

City Mayor Brent Lambert told the council at its March 27 meeting that because the legislation has certain requirements and milestones to be reached -- the district needs to have a $20 million investment, draw 1 million visitors a year and pay the state $2 million in tax revenue a year -- the city would need to have someone go back over everything that could count toward the required expenditures, which also include demolition costs.

Additionally, at the March 27 council meeting, East Ridge City Attorney Hal North told council members that he had talked to various Tennessee attorneys about representing the city as bond counsel in regard to the border region legislation, including a representative of Bass, Berry and Sims, the firm that represented Bristol in gaining border region status.

Contact staff writer Alex Harris at aharris@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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