County Commission Unanimously Passes $672.5 Million Budget With No Tax Increase

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The County Commission on Wednesday morning unanimously approved a no-tax-increase budget that includes $7.2 million in higher spending.

The county budget of $672,535,000 includes a 2.5 percent pay increase for employees. City employees got 1.5 percent raises.

Chairman Fred Skillern said the county has fewer employees and vehicles than the previous year.

He said health insurance has been the highest budget item in growth by far. That expense has been covered "by growth and savings," he said.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said, "This budget is a reflection of my fiscally conservative beliefs.  We have held the line on taxes for the fourth year in a row. Homeowners will not have to worry about an increase in their property taxes, business owners know they can go ahead and budget for the next fiscal year know their tax rate remains the same as it has been since I took office in 2011.”

He said the budget focuses on "education and public safety." He said 59.4 percent of county spending is going to the schools and the sheriff 's budget is up $1.9 million for operations. The county schools will get a $5.1 million increase to $399 million.

The higher sheriff funding will allow the hiring of eight new correctional officers at the county jail at a cost of $454,000. It funds 30 new sheriff vehicles.

The county mayor said there will be four fewer employees in county government - down from 1,319 to 1,315. He said two positions are down in the property assessor's office after a reappraisal was finished. General Sessions Court Judge Ron Durby, who has been getting county disability payments, is now off the payroll. The Criminal Court clerk's office is down one employee.

County Mayor Coppinger said medical costs are up 12 percent - a rise of $2.4 million.

He said the controversial $100,000 each for the nine County Commission members for "discretionary spending" is going off the county books. It will be taken from a line of credit.

To meet the budget, $2.6 million is being taken from the county fund balance, $2 million from the county schools fund balance and $600,000 from the sheriff and Juvenile Court clerk fund balances.

The county mayor said the county in the current year set aside $3.5 million from fund balance, but wound up not using any of that amount.

The budget anticipates a rise in property tax revenue of $2.3 million, an increase in EPB in-lieu-of-taxes payments of $419,000, and a rise of $391,000 in state taxes, including the Hall Tax.

Pension costs are up $2 million, while debt service costs are down $2.67 million.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AKHTAB, MALACHI SHAHADA  102 WAYSIDE DR FORT OGLETHORPE, 30742  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County FUGITIVE (CATOOSA COUNTY GA) ---- ANDREWS, TRAMESHA LASHON  3921 MARIGO DRIVE CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: Red Bank ... (click for more)

Stone Charged In Attack On Wife, Who Is Top Aide To Mayor

Robert F. "Bobby" Stone has been charged in an attack on his wife, Lacie Stone, a top aide to Mayor Andy Berke. Stone, 54, is charged with domestic assault and vandalism. In the incident on Friday, police said Ms. Stone called a friend at the police department, saying "her husband was going to kill her." She said they got into a verbal argument that turned physical in a ... (click for more)

Late-Night Harassment By The Signal Mountain Police - And Response (8)

I am writing about the misconduct of the Signal Mountain Police Department. This is a repetitive civil rights problem, systemic within their department, with no hint of remorse or regret or a notion to change, though they have been confronted numerous times.   I live on Signal Mountain. In the last few months, I have been pulled over three times while I was driving three ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Hot Rod’s Catfish Dinner

It could well be the best part of playing a prank is in the delicious moments until your “fish” takes the hook. So yesterday afternoon, as I tried repeatedly to talk to a man I haven’t spoken to in 27 years, rather than leave my name I popped off the Happy Birthday song in a snappy, loud way and then ended it with a simple, “Call me,” adding my number. John “Hot Rod” Talley spent ... (click for more)

Germany's Sebastian Kienle Wins Ironman 70.3 Race

It’s hard to not be impressed with the fitness level of folks who commit themselves to training and participating in Ironman-distance triathlons and that was surely the case in downtown Chattanooga Sunday morning. There are three words to describe these folks and that’s fit, fast and friendly.  And most of them cross the finish line with a smile on their face and a spring ... (click for more)

Spring Fling State Soccer Brackets Set

Notre Dame and McCallie are the only area teams to compete in this week's Spring Fling Soccer competitions in Murfreesboro.   In Class A/AA, Notre Dame will play Tuesday at 6:30 in the quarterfinals.  The will face off with CAK. Winners will advance to the semifinals on Wednesday.  The Class A/AA state championship game is set for Friday at 4 p.m.   Notre ... (click for more)