Norris Council sets budget schedule

The Norris City Council Monday night set three dates for budget workshops and designated a fourth date for a public hearing as the city prepares to enact its spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Council members will meet in the council chambers at City Hall at 4 p.m. April 24 and May 1, then at 5 p.m. May 5, before having a first reading of the new budget ordinance during the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. May 11.

A public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. June 1, then the second and final reading of the budget ordinance will take place during the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. June 8, the council decided.

The council also set a meeting of the Norris Beer Board for 6:45 p.m. April 13, just prior to the regular council meeting at 7 p.m., to consider an application for on-premises consumption for Gametime Pizza next to Dollar General at 3332 Andersonville Highway.

Gametime Pizza previously operated as Discount Tobacco and Gametime Pizza, selling tobacco, beer and takeout pizza until recently.

It already had a Norris permit to sell beer for off-premises consumption.

But Norris City Manager Scott Hackler told the council that the business has removed tobacco and now serves pizza and subs for dine-in and takeout customers. The eatery wants to be able to serve beer as well.

Council members also serve as the Beer Board, and they indicated that Gametime’s application probably would be approved if all the requirements for a permit have been met.

In other business:

Hackler briefed the council on what he has found out about the new coronavirus, and learned that it would be dangerous mostly just to older people with underlying health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and breathing disorders.

Based on input he received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Tennessee Department of Health, Hackler said the city’s standard precautions for protection from flu viruses already in place “are sufficient” to address any coronavirus outbreak.

Mayor Chris Mitchell said the rule for city workers should be that “If people are sick, they don’t come to work.”

Council members were told that Norris has an agreement with the city of Clinton to operate the Norris water and sewer plants for the city if personnel from the Norris Water Commission are off work because of the coronavirus.

Hackler said the city fire and police departments also have mutual-aid pacts with nearby departments to help them if necessary.

The council members asked Hackler to find out whether the council could legally meet and make decisions via teleconference if an outbreak of the virus might prevent them from holding regular meetings.

“This is turning out to be a very good exercise to remind us that we could face a serious medical-issue threat, and allow us to work out how to respond,” Hackler said after the meeting. “But the information we have is that this virus is not a big threat, at least any more than the flu.

“The silver lining is that it has caused some thought processes to be put in place on how we would manage our operations under a severe health threat,” he said.

“The people who already have health issues are already at risk for a lot of things. This is just another threat to them.”