County Schools Sue City Over Liquor Tax Money; Berke Makes Offer That Includes Schools Paying Stormwater Fees

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Hamilton County Schools filed suit Friday in Chancery Court seeking $11.7 million the district says it is owed in liquor tax funds.

Click here to read the lawsuit.

Mayor Andy Berke quickly responded with an offer to settle the suit that involves the county schools making stormwater payments to the city. School officials said recently they were not previously charged the fee and they believe other governments are not asked to pay.

The County School Board had authorized the suit several weeks ago, but there were some talks between the city and the schools.

City officials said, "Mayor Andy Berke and Supt. Rick Smith met on March 28 and agreed to convene a working group for 30 days to try to come up with a resolution that is responsible to taxpayers. That working group met twice and was making progress. They were scheduled to meet the upcoming two weeks, prior to the filing of this lawsuit."

The schools maintain that the city should have been giving the schools a share of the liquor tax funds over a long number of years.

Mayor Berke sent this letter today to Supt. Smith:

April 11, 2014

Mr. Rick Smith

Superintendent's Office

Hamilton County Schools

3074 Hickory Valley Road

Chattanooga, TN 37421

Dear Rick:

Two weeks ago, you and I had a productive one-on-one discussion about the issues related to $11.7 million in liquor taxes HCDE seeks from the City and the $1.7 million in storm water fees HCDE owes the City. I left the meeting believing that we both wanted to find a resolution that:

· Establishes an amount of liquor tax and a payment schedule that are responsible to Chattanooga taxpayers;

· Results in new, additional dollars from HCDE’s funding sources and is not merely offset by reductions in support from those sources;

· Benefits the schools the City’s children attend;

· Resolves HCDE’s delinquent storm water fee payments to the City; and

· Ensures that due amounts are paid going forward.

With these principles in mind, at that meeting, you and I agreed to select members of our staffs to work together as a group for 30 days in order resolve these issues. The group has met twice, once as recently as Tuesday, and was making progress by all accounts. Nevertheless, it is my understanding that HCDE has refused to cooperate in scheduling the next working group meeting and, instead, filed suit today while Wade Hinton was attempting to arrange our next meeting. This decision is very disappointing, especially after your withdrawal in November from the agreement to resolve all these issues we announced in August.

Based on our experience in the working group, we have decided to simply make the following proposal, with the hope that we can resolve this issue despite HCDE’s decision not to participate as agreed:

· The City will:

o make an initial liquor tax payment to HCDE of $3.33 million;

o make annual payments of approximately $1.67 million to HCDE for five years; and

o make current payments going forward.

· HCDE will:

o make an initial storm water payment to the City of approximately $1.7 million; and

o make current payments going forward.

· The City, HCDE, and any other necessary party will take steps required to ensure that the principles we discussed on March 28 (and listed above) are fulfilled.

I hope you and members of the School Board will accept this offer so the City and HCDE can move on from this topic and begin to focus on how we can partner together on issues such as digital inclusion, literacy, and other issues affecting our City’s children. Otherwise, we are merely going to spend a significant amount of time at taxpayer expense to resolve this issue.

As always, thank you for your commitment to service. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Mayor Andy Berke

City of Chattanooga


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ARNOLD, STEVEN EUGENE  3802 SOUTH QUAIL LANE CHATTANOOGA, 37405  Age at Arrest: 64 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DOMESTIC ASSAULT --- ATKINS, JARROD KANE  3108 4TH AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37407  Age at Arrest: 29 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DISORDERLY CONDUCT ... (click for more)

Tyecha McCullough, 23, Stabbed To Death At College Hill Courts; 2nd Person Hurt; Eric McCullough, 46, In Custody

Tyecha McCullough, 23, was the  woman who was stabbed to death at College Hill Courts on Wednesday night. At approximately  10:27 p.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 1400 Cypress Street Court for a stabbing.   Officers located the victim suffering from a life-threatening stab wound and she  was transported from the scene ... (click for more)

The Silence Is Deafening - And Response

In this week’s news cycle we have the international uproar over the killing of Cecil the lion. In the same time most national news outlet refuse to even mention the undercover videos of so call doctors and technicians discussing the harvesting, processing and sale of human baby body parts.  The argument by those liberal, progressive Democrats has been that the “fetus” was ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: They Still Love The ‘Lickers’

When Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fl.) introduced the 2015 version of the “Prevent All Soring Tactics” in Congress this week, he already had a bipartisan crowd of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats as co-sponsors. That’s hardly amazing. Today there are over 280 organizations, associations, veterinary and animal advocates who vehemently support the legislation, because it is well documented, ... (click for more)

Justin Brown Signs With Hiwassee College

Only weeks after signing Red Bank's Jalen Moore to a scholarship, Hiwassee head baseball coach Shane Gardner was back in Chattanooga on Wednesday evening. This time he was in the Scenic City looking for a player he described as "a spark plug, someone who could boost our team and contribute right away." He believes he's found that young man in former Chattanooga School for the ... (click for more)

Robert Powderly Still Active After All Of These Years

It didn’t take long for Robert Powderly to get fully involved in the running boom back in the late 70s. Millions of Americans joined the parade back in those days where running was their main source of physical fitness and Powderly was a big part of it. Powderly is now 68 and retired from U.S. Pipe where he worked in the accounting department.   He’s also had a couple ... (click for more)