Portland’s City Council gave final approval last week to changes in the fee structure for the city’s courts.

The board approved on second reading at its Oct. 4 meeting an ordinance to establish “reasonable” court costs and levy a local litigation tax.

Court costs in Portland will rise from $49 to $67.50, with an added local litigation tax of $13.75. For vehicle equipment violations that are dismissed for compliance, such as inoperable headlights or lack of registration, court costs of $25 may be established.

A second ordinance adopted allows the city to recover $5 of costs associated with the issuing of electronic citations. In September, Police Chief Jason Williams said Tennessee law allows municipalities to collect a $5 fee for each citation that results in a conviction. He envisioned the $5 fee going to pay for electronic citation machines, rather than having to ask the city for funding to pay for the necessary equipment. The ordinance also provides that the $5 fee sunsets after five years.

The council committed to a 20% match for the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Local Programs Resurfacing Program.

The city has roughly $350,000 in federal funds available to be used on eligible projects and has identified Kirby Drive and South Russell Street as in need of repaving in certain sections, Mayor Mike Callis said.

“They require us to say we’ll supply the 20%,” Callis noted.

The city’s portion of the project — expected to be just over $89,000 — could also go toward adding pedestrian signals and walkways at the intersection of South Russell and Highway 52, depending on the final cost of the project .

The board also approved a three-year contract with Scotty’s Contracting to provide road paving maintenance and materials to the city, an agreement for engineering services for water/sewer improvements on High Street and Portland Boulevard and on first reading a $712,777 bid from TJ Construction Co. for natural gas improvements on Highway 259.

“Highway 259, this will be from Mitchellville out to North Russell,” Utilities Director Bryan Price told the council. “When it was installed, it was installed incorrectly…”

The bid also includes the relocation of a gas line on West Market Street and relocation of a gas line for Rogers Group in Robertson County.

A budget amendment incorporating increased appropriations for parks ($58,000), water & sewer ($27,000 water plant, $307,000 sewer repairs) and gas ($400,000 radio read metering project) was approved on second reading, as was an update to the city’s purchasing policy.

Linda Napier was also reappointed to the Portland Housing Authority Board.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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