Loudon SunTrust branch closing, city leaders say

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

Loudon City Council is looking at whether or not to change its policy regarding bank deposits after learning SunTrust Bank will close its Loudon branch on May 1.

In an age of fast-changing digital technology, smartphones and instant communication and data transfer, the question is not as simple as it once was.

City Manager Lynn Mills asked council members for direction on the matter in Monday's council meeting. Mills said he had learned that SunTrust will close its Loudon branch and that a long-standing contractual requirement for the city's banking depositories is a physical presence in the city.

Mills said he was not happy about the loss of the branch, which is located near Loudon City Hall.

"The local branch was convenient for the city and the utilities," Mills said. "A local branch was part of the contract. We may need to move our accounts to another bank or change the policy."

Councilman Lynn Millsaps said he thought the accounts should be moved.

"I think it needs to be a requirement that they are located here," Millsaps said. "There are other issues. We need to be able to make night deposits. We don't need to have money on hand here."

Mills said he would draft a bid request for banking depositories.

Mike Lambert, Loudon Utilities Board assistant manager and financial director, asked for more consideration on the matter.

"I understand the council's feelings about the location, but the world is changing rapidly and there are issues from the technology standpoint to consider," Lambert said. "If they (banks) have to be physically here, can the other banks do what we need to provide the technology we need? I am afraid they can't. We were moving toward remote deposit and looking at other security issues dealing with technology."

Councilman Michael Cartwright asked if a local branch was a board requirement or simply a preference.

"Twenty or 30 years ago, all councils liked to help out the local businesses, but all the banks here now are branches of banks that are based somewhere else," Cartwright said.

Sue Vollman, SunTrust branch manager at Loudon, said she could not divulge information about the branch closure and referred questions to a corporate spokesperson. Corporate officials could not be reached before press time.