Published January 29, 2021
Chattanooga, TN- The Chattanooga City Council has presented their recommendations for the focus of the Chattanooga city budget for 2022.
Some of the main action items for almost every District included Road Maintenance, Speed Calming Efforts, Litter Pickup, Homelessness, Business Recruitment, More Jobs, Workforce Development, and Equity.
For a map of all the City Council Districts in Chattanooga, please refer to this Google Map.
For District 1, the number one priority is road paving.
Chairman Chip Henderson stated that paving in his district has “woefully unfunded” in previous years.
“I think to determine exactly how much paving dollars we need, I think we need to develop an asset management plan to be able to come up with a reasonable figure that we can address paving concerns long-term,” Henderson said.
Second on the list is Employee Pay for Sworn & Non-Sworn City Employees.
“We need to ensure that all our employees are paid a wage that they can support their families. In order to be able to recruit and maintain talent in our Fire Department and our Police Department, we are going to have to address employee pay,” said Henderson.
Third on Henderson’s list is Workforce Development.
“I think the best way to attract business in Chattanooga is by offering a deep talent pool. We’re going to have to be able to address the needs these companies have in terms of a labor force,” said Henderson.
For District 2, Council Member Jerry Mitchell presented the following budget concerns:
• Adequate funding for upkeep of streets and sidewalks. A permanent percentage of the budget ordinance should be considered for improved upkeep and additions.
• Continued speed calming efforts (speed bumps) in neighborhoods
• Increased business recruitment
• Small and minority business incentives
• Increased and more efficient public transportation
• Increased workforce training and development including an apprenticeship program for future city employees
• Create a more coordinated and better funded approach to affordable housing
• Increased transparency in planning and development
• Increased transparency and consistency in code enforcement
• A partnership with the community addressing homelessness
• More emphasis on standards for upkeep and improvement of parks
• Update facilities and increased resources for YFD
• Increase early childhood learning as well as affordable healthcare
For District 3, Vice-Chairman Ken Smith stated that much of what he has heard from his constituents mirrors those of District 3.
However, District 3 is heavily focused on Adequate funding for upkeep of streets and sidewalks, continued speed calming efforts in neighborhoods.
“I consider the most important issues in my District to be the ones that people are calling me about,” Smith said.
Smith also mentioned stated that trash is a major concern.
“A local business person said he feels like Chattanooga is more the ‘trashy city’ than the ‘scenic city’ these days,” Smith said, “That’s not an opinion that is shared by just one person.”
For District 4, Council Member Darrin Ledford stated that his constituents continue to be primarily concerned with street conditions, traffic congestion and increased public safety presence.
“Although we have seen a much-needed increase in paving allocations over the last four years, more funding and focus are needed,” Ledford said, “An increase in infrastructure investment, a continued dedication to public safety, and public works services certainly echo the district’s main concerns.”
For District 5, Council Member Russell Gilbert stated that Paving the roads is the top concern.
“Chattanooga is more than just Downtown, it’s all over the City that should be fixed and repaired,” Gilbert said.
Other budget consideration included completion of Area 10 Plan, providing incentives for businesses to come to District 5, stronger police presence, affordable housing, cleaning up the community and programs for trade schools.
For District 6, Council Member Carol Berz stated that, “We do need economic development, but we need so much more.”
For Safer Streets, Berz proposed extra attention be paid to the following:
• Invasion of homeless camps / nighttime property crime
• Panhandling, aggressive and passive
• Litter along the streets
• Speed calming on neighborhood streets
• Infrastructure repair, especially roads/potholes
• Lack of timely completion of Standifer Gap Bridge repairs
• Lost grant opportunities for sidewalks, connecting live/work/play interests
District 7 Council Member Erskine Oglesby Jr. stated that, “We’re off to a good start to formulate a plan since so many of us have shared interests in how we should budget this moving forward.”
For District 8, Council Member Anthony Byrd stated that he strongly agrees with his Council colleagues on all levels.
However, his most important request for District 8 revolved around High Performing Government by creating a budgeting system that better measures performance and results.
District 9 Council Member Demetrus Coonrod stated that, “We are all in agreement on the same things when it comes to safer streets and growing our economy.”
“We have been talking about these issues throughout history. We have to find a better way to address every issue in every district,” Coonrod said, “With the funds that we do have, we have to make things a priority and go ahead and do it.”