Niota loses liability insurance for second time this year - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Niota loses liability insurance for second time this year

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NIOTA, TN (WRCB) -

Niota in McMinn County is in a familiar situation. The city's liability insurance ran out at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.

The Tennessee Municipal League temporarily extended Niota's insurance in April, but it refuses to do it again until changes are made.

The TML dropped Niota's general liability insurance for the second time this year. That means no city police officers or fire fighters, no library, and parks are off limits. This time though, Mayor Lois Preece said four people lost their job.

Dozens of people packed the Niota Memorial Building Monday evening as officials with Athens Insurance Agency explained that the TML won't insure Niota because of too many claims from city employees against city leaders.

He also said Niota's elected officials won't work together to fix the problems, and that's not something you see every day. "This is very unique. We insure many municipalities, county governments, and we haven't seen anything like this," said Allen Carter of Athens Insurance.

City leaders and community members disagree on where the problem lies. Some say the insurance claims at question are made against commissioners Leesa Corum and Richard Rutledge. Those people say the insurance would come back if they resigned.

Commissioner Corum issued a statement saying she and Rutledge feel this is a move designed to take the spotlight off of ongoing litigation involving two Niota police officers. "The accusation of harassment made by a former employee against Commissioner Rutledge and myself has been largely exaggerated within the spectrum of the city being non insurable," she said.

During Monday's meeting, commissioners voted to contact municipality consultants MTAS to investigate all five commissioners.

"I think that somebody needs to investigate it and get to the bottom of it finally. It's a shame the citizens of Niota have to go through this," said Niota Street Commissioner William Andrews.

Athens Insurance officials said this issue goes beyond Niota's borders. McMinn County is having to deploy extra emergency resources to keep Niota citizens safe.

"It's a burden on the tax payers of the county and things of that nature. We'd rather them get their business in order and be able to buy their own insurance policy," said Carter.

Niota's water will continue to run, and the city's sewer work will be contracted out.

Mayor Lois Preece said there is no telling when insurance could come back.

The next meeting is set for July 15th.

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