The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
During the Chattanooga City Council meeting on Tuesday, the vote on the city budget was delayed. The council was forced to do so because an inquiry was submitted about the public notice process.
According to spokeswoman Mary Beth Ikard, the City was informed about the notice by the State Board of Equalization. The inquiry was about public notice in regards to a new proposed tax rate included in the budget.
In an email sent to News Channel 9, Ikard said the city did provide ample notice about the budget. This included a public hearing, information sessions, and more over the recent years.
“We believe the code-mandated criteria have indeed been met for public notice and engagement –and that the City’s intent to set the tax rate higher than the current certified tax rate has already been clearly expressed,” Ikard said.
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The budget was approved during a recent City Council meeting and would have gone into effect if passed on Tuesday.
However, the Board of Equalization has recommended a separate public notice and public hearing. The City decided to post-poke the vote for two weeks in order to do so. The Clerk of the Council issued a ten-day notice for the upcoming public hearing.
It will be held on September 28, before the Council has their final vote.
The proposed budget includes a pay raise for city employees, appointing a full-time pothole inspector, and repaving roads. The total comes out to $300 million and would be paid for with a property tax increase.
It was first passed during the meeting on September 7 during the first reading. Council Member Darrin Ledford made a statement before the first vote last week.
“This is a pretty important night in the start of a new chapter for our city,” Ledford said. “I believe the realignment of priorities is a natural and necessary occurrence from which we all grow. Further, as a city, it helps improve critical services such as public safety and infrastructure which our city charter specifically outlines as a priority. Tremendous focus of this budget is directed at our city’s most significant resources – our employees. Public works, fire and police especially.”
Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly first presented the budget last month alongside Chief of Staff Brent Goldberg.
“Over the hundred and change days, we’ve been laying the groundwork to ensure our city is prepared to tackle the big structural challenges facing our community while making sure we get the basics right,” Kelly said in August. “As all of you know, talk is cheap, big ideas and grand plans are all well and good but it doesn’t mean a thing unless it’s in your budget. You may have heard that a budget is a moral document, which is true, but it’s also a strategic compass. Our budget points the way towards our priorities and demonstrates clearly where we are going as a city.”
The proposed budget passed last week with a unanimous vote of 9-0.
Councilman Ledford’s statement went on to say, “I support this budget because I believe it is the right thing to do in re-pledging ourselves to the fundamental priorities of our city charter which is to provide the best services we can to every Chattanoogan.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com