The county is considering a bill that would shift the collection of county back taxes from the county back tax attorney to the county attorney's office.
County Commissioner Curtis Adams said the move might allow the county to save as much as $100,000.
He said the duties could be assigned to an employee in the county attorney's office at $50,000 to $60,000. He noted that County Back Tax Attorney Terry McGhehey made $149,366 last year. "That's too much money," Commissioner Adams said.
He said having the duties in the county attorney's office "would give us more reassurance and a better feel about the collection of these taxes. The whole thing has been sloppy the way it is."
The County Commission is set to discuss that proposed bill as well as other desired legislation at a meeting with the county legislative delegation on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
Passage of the bill would require unanimous consent of the local legislators.
Trustee Carl Levi would also have sayso on whether it was moved to the county attorney's office. He hired attorney McGhehey and has praised his work.
Commissioner Adams was critical of County Attorney Rheubin Taylor for alerting Mr. Levi to the proposed bill and not sending a memo about it to the County Commission members.
He said in a memo to County Attorney Taylor, "I strongly feel you were out of order and very unprofessional to send a copy of the draft memo regarding the county attorney collecting the back taxes to anyone other than the chairman of the Hamilton County Commission. You should have sent that email to the Hamilton County Commission legislative administrator to print for Chairman (Larry) Henry and copy to no one else until you received notice from Chairman Henry.
"Why was this subject any concern to those others you sent the email to? This is a commission proposal and ours only, possibly a copy to Claude Ramsey.
"You've given Levi ample opportunity now to start today lobbying against what we want done with our delegation.
"No reply is necessary nor is one expected.
"I am amazed!"
County Attorney Taylor said in a reply memo that he was instructed by the county mayor's office, not the County Commission, to draft the legislation.
He said when such matters come up, "we seek the involvement of those persons within county government that have a direct knowledge of the workings of the subject matter. Therefore, in addition to the county mayor's staff that had instructed me to prepare this legislation, I also sought the trustee's involvement.
"I did not think such inclusion would be adversarial, because the proposed legislation gives the trustee the option to use the county attorney, and did not make it mandatory. I'm sure you all understand the reasonableness of including Louis Wright (county finance administrator) and Bill McGriff (county auditor) in the mix."
He said he had forwarded the e-mail to Carolyn Collins in the commission office to share with commissioners.