Chattanooga Tax Payers Could Get $690,000 Bill for Juneteenth “Day Off” For City Workers

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Published March 25, 2021

The Tennessee Conservative Staff-

Chattanooga, TN – In the Strategic Planning meeting on Tuesday, March 23rd, the Chattanooga City Council discussed adding Juneteenth as a holiday for City employees and the budgetary implications thereof. 

Chattanooga, Tennessee At Night

District 9 Council Member Demetrus Coonrod, opened the discussion. 

“When we talk about why Juneteenth should be declared as a City holiday for our employees is that Juneteenth is very significant and I get it, it is threatening to some because July 4th, 1776, it did not do what Juneteenth does,” Coonrod said. 

Coonrod stated that Juneteenth actually freed all Americans so it, as a holiday, is inclusive to all. 

“July 4th, we celebrate that as an Independence Day, but it’s not an Independence Day that’s inclusive of all Americans.  It only gave us independence from Britain, but at that time slavery was still going about,” Coonrod said. 

“We can’t go back to that day to change what was happening so I’m just asking for our Council to take a second look at it,” Coonrod requested, “When we take a look at the list of holidays that we already celebrate as city holidays, they’re not inclusive to all people.”   

“Juneteenth is inclusive to everybody.  It’s about reclaiming our history, rejoicing in the progress we’ve made, and recommitting to the work yet undone,” Coonrod said. 

District 2 Council Member Jerry Mitchell said, “Every once in while I find myself saying…When are we going to do something to show that we are different? We really want to see something that makes a change and acknowledges the truth that is out there that we still don’t like to talk about because it’s painful.  I personally think we should do this….It’s for all of us…let’s charge for it not let’s move slowly forward over the years.” 

District 1 Council Member Chip Henderson suggested that the legislation should be put on the floor and follow the normal process of putting it into committee, and then bring it out of committee onto the agenda.   

“It does have budgetary implications.  We’re talking about around $690,000 if we add this holiday.  I think we need to have a discussion about how we spend $690,000 particularly when we’re talking about addressing the salaries of our employees,” Henderson said. 

District 6 Council Member Carol Berz stated, “Council, it’s not just a matter of putting it on the agenda because of the impact of the budget so we can go a number of ways.  We can recognize the holiday for what it is, which is really an important holiday, or irrespective of the holiday, we legally need to do it as a budget amendment.” 

City Attorney Phil Noblett said that a budget amendment requires a roughly 30-day public notice before approval. 

Henderson stated that the Council did previously pass a resolution recognizing the Holiday and that the holiday will not fall on a weekday until 2023 and that only then, there be a budgetary implication. 

However, District 7 Council Member Erskine Oglesby Jr. stated that, generally, if holidays fall on the weekend, it is celebrated on the next weekday following, so there would be a budgetary concern even then. 

Attorney Noblett was asked to begin the process for the Budget Amendment to add the Holiday to the Budget. 

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