Lack of insurance shuts down Niota - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lack of insurance shuts down Niota

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NIOTA, TN. (WRCB) -- For the past 24 hours, the city of Niota in McMinn County has been shut down.

The decision was made at an emergency meeting last night, due to the city not having any liability insurance.

Imagine a town with no police department, no trash pickup and no city parks.

That's what's happening in the small town of Niota and many community members say they've had enough.
 
"Crazy, I mean, that's the most crazy thing I've heard of in my life," says life-long Niota resident, Tammy Carver.

Tammy Carver says she's lived in Niota her whole life, and that's what she has to say about the town shutting down because of a lack of liability insurance.

The city's contract with the Tennessee Municipal League expired Thursday night and was not renewed.

"The liability insurance that we do not have would include our police department, our fire department, all of our vehicles and anybody that happens to get hurt on a premise," says Niota Mayor Lois Preece.

The police department is entirely shut down, and the fire department's resources are limited to the county truck, which can hold only so much water in case of a fire.

"If there's not a fire hydrant close by, you know, they're not going to get the service that they need," Tammy Carver says. "So are you going to watch them burn?"

Caution tape lines the city parks, because if someone gets hurt, and Niota is not insured, that's going to cost the tax payers money.

"The reason why we shut down our services is to protect the citizens, because if there are any accidents, it has to come out of the tax payers' money instead of the insurance company," says Preece.

The city of Niota is following up on a couple of leads for new insurance companies and city leaders hope to have something in place by Monday.

But some city commissioners say more should be done.

"Instead of picking just one broker when something like this happens, we need to keep all of our options open," Commissioner Leesa Corum says.

"So anybody that comes along that can help us, we can't turn them away."

Now some community members say they just want city officials to work together.

"You can't tell your kids that they can't go play in the park, because you have adults that can't make decisions to run a city," says Carver.

City Mayor Lois Preece says if any decisions are made, community members will see a notice for a meeting on Monday.

The McMinn County Sheriff's Department will patrol Niota until the police department can run again.

The city will continue to have running water and sewer treatment. City hall and the library will remain open.

Mayor Preece says she's confident things will return to normal next week.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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