Chattanooga City Council Fumbles Chance To Fund Struggling Local Organizations

Chattanooga, TN – The Chattanooga City Council has come to a final decision to give City employees bonuses and turn their back on struggling small business until 2021.

$800,000 will be sitting dormant until January 5th, which is when the City Council deferred the consideration of disbursement to local struggling organizations.

Some of the organizations that will have to wait another month for financial assistance while City employees enjoy bonuses are the Forgotten Child Fund, Tivoli, Bessie Smith Cultural Center, United Way, and the Southeast Tennessee Development District.

City employees have had a strong sense of job security during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Employees for small businesses and other local organizations have not had the same promised employment and have even been negatively affected by some of the Chattanooga pandemic restrictions.

“We’ve been closed since March 16th by order of the mayor.”, Elijah Cameron, Bessie Smith Cultural Center Director of Community Relations said. 

The Bessie Smith Cultural Center has lost $226,000 over the past 8 months of forced shut down.

“Funds have been lost during the course of our closure and certainly that has made a big impact on us as an organization.”, said Elijah Cameron.

City employees that have suffered zero job instability will be getting bonuses of $400-500 this year.

The motion to defer the consideration of financial assistance to other suffering entities passed with a vote of 5-4.

The City employee bonuses will be officially approved after a second reading within the City Council.

The money allocations that will not be going to local organizations this year while City employees receive and extra $1.7 million in bonuses are listed below:

  • Tivoli Theatre – $225,000
  • Forgotten Child Fund – $75,000
  • Bessie Smith Cultural Center – $40,000
  • United Way – $160,000
  • Small Business Relief Fund Boost – $300,000

It’s not certain that the money will even go to these organizations in January, as some City Council members voiced opposition to it.

“But why would we not take this extra $800,000 and apply it to our out-of-pocket expenses?”, said District 1 Councilman Chip Henderson.

“We need a Fire Academy and I’ve been told there is not money for it. Here’s $800,000 that we’re going to give to well-deserving organizations, but we have needs in our own house.”, Henderson said.

Any further consideration of how to use the remaining $800,000 in CARES Act funding will resume on January 5th, 2021.

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