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.


Anturaum Dickey, 36, Arrested For Federal Warrants In Cleveland

Anturaum Montazz Dickey, 36, of Cleveland was taken into custody on federal warrants at a Blount Avenue residence by members of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office’s Fugitive Team, backed up by deputies from BCSO, on a tip provided by members of the United States Marshal’s Service.   An additional charge has been filed on Dickey for possessing a Serbian AK-47 style rifle, ... (click for more)

Local Religious Group Condemns Hammond Comments, Asks Apology

A local religious group, Mercy Junction and Peace Center, has condemned comments by Sheriff Jim Hammond on Muslims and asked for an apology. The group said, " People of all faiths, or of no faith, are invited to join Mercy Junction in front of the Islamic Society of Chattanooga for prayers on Friday afternoon. "Prayers In Solidarity" will take place outside the Islamic ... (click for more)

Who's Responsible For East Ridge's Stadium? - And Response

There just can be no excuse for East Ridge High School's stadium being in such dangerous condition that it has been condemned.   Where is responsible for this? I know there are a few other stadiums like this as well. And there is no excuse for this.  Building new and beautiful schools, state of the art technology. Top athletic facilities as well. Yet, East Ridge ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Barners Trounce Who?

There is a website known as Grammarly that just completed a profound study. An automated proof-reading company (who I hope never finds out about me) collected 100 comments that each included over 50 words from the comment blogs of the nation’s preseason Top 25 college football teams. Then they fed them into the company’s huge algorithm computer and checked each fan base for punctuation, ... (click for more)

East Ridge Football: Home Side Stands Are Closed ... Four Home Games Will Be Played on Campus

The home side football stands and press box at East Ridge High School are closed permanently due to safety issues, but for the 66 teenagers who wear the orange, white and gray for the Pioneers on Friday nights it’s a small distraction and the season continues. “Playing this Friday’s game against Signal Mountain at Baylor (7:30 p.m.) is a small distraction for us, but we know ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Sweeps Red Bank In Volleyball

Signal Mountain coach Jennifer Redman was not a very happy young lady last week when Notre Dame came up and took a 3-1 volleyball win in the Lady Eagles' gym. She knows she has an experienced team with more than her share of talent, but they just hadn't been playing like it to start the season. The veteran coach was somewhat happier Wednesday night after her team took a non-district ... (click for more)