Pigeon Forge commissioners consider tech fee

Jan. 30, 2014 @ 11:15 PM

In an information-gathering workshop on Monday afternoon, Pigeon Forge commissioners said they needed more information before they could make a decision about a proposed technology fee on citations issued by the police department.

Pigeon Forge Police Department Chief Jack Baldwin presented the issue to the commission at the workshop, which immediately followed the regularly scheduled commission meeting.

Before it is put on a regular agenda for the commission to consider, some of the details that the police department plans with the fee will need to be clarified. Baldwin suggested at the meeting that the fee simply increases the total cost of most citations, including other fees and taxes, to $100.

“It’s a good, even, round number,” he said. “It’s easier for those girls in the office, they don’t have to try to make change.”

The proposed fee would be mandatory for any citation, even if it is dismissed. However, violations of some state-mandated laws, such as seat belt laws, would not be eligible for a technology fee. It is not clear what the exact cost would be for each type of citation.

Before the issue is brought to an official meeting in the future, the commission asked that Baldwin assemble data representing what the costs of the fees will be for each citation, and what police department will use the fees for.

Baldwin, referencing a similar fee levied by Johnson City’s police department, said the technology fee could be beneficial to the local police department. It potentially could go toward purchasing new electronic equipment and software for the police department.

“Johnson City maintains their entire radio system with a technology fee,” Baldwin said. “Last year we issued almost 5,000 citations.”

Although the workshop was purely intended to gain information, and no actual decisions were made regarding the issue, some commissioners seemed to indicate that, once the proposal is properly fleshed out and more detailed information is provided to the commission in a formal meeting, they may see the benefits that the technology fee could provide.

“I think this is a good idea,” Commissioner Howard Reagan said. “I’m with you 100 percent on that.”

Other issues discussed at the workshop included:

  • A proposal to rezone property to C-7 on Wears Valley Road from Ross Ogle. The proposal is related to the controversial Goats on the Roof attraction. A ride is planned, but the land needs to be rezoned. The problem will be addressed by the Pigeon Forge Planning commission, but Goats on the Roof representatives sought input from the city commission in order to resolve issues as soon as possible. The owners want to open the amusement park by this summer. “We know you, we appreciate everything you’ve done in Pigeon Forge,” Mayor David Wear said. “But you have to take it to the planning commission, and they’ll make a recommendation to us about what to do. There’s not really anything we can do about it right now. You have to just go through the proper channels.”
  • A request to convert a billboard located at Texas Roadhouse from Tri-Vision to Digital.
  • Fire department fleet options. Chief Tony Watson updated the commission on the status of the fire department and its needs, recommending purchases to be made in the future regarding fire equipment.