Consolidate City And County Resources To Keep Students Safe - And Response

Friday, March 23, 2018

Every school in Hamilton County should have a resource officer now.  The schools should be secured, metal detectors should be installed and other security measures should be implemented.  Anything less puts our students at risk. 

Yet, we lack the fiscal resources to accomplish the task.  Sheriff Hammond said that we need $4 million to add a resource officer for every school.  The county school board is strapped fiscally as well to improve school security.  We must find the resources now to protect our kids in Hamilton County. 

For long term planning we should be studying the consolidation of the city and county resources that was accomplished in Nashville in 1963.  Their efforts lowered taxes, improved schools, and improved other county services.   It seems that in our times of constrained resources that are sorely needed to protect our most important citizens, the children, that we should be moving toward a consolidated county/city government at a rapid pace. 

Does anyone else think county/city consolidation makes sense for Hamilton County? 

Randy Fox

* * *

Mr. Fox asks the question “Does anyone else think county/city consolidation makes sense for Hamilton County? 

I some respects – maybe - in other respects absolutely not.

Chattanooga’s city government over the years has developed and committed to financial obligations that are of no benefit to the county residents. County residents had no say in those decisions, therefore it is unconscionable to obligate the entire county for decisions that solely benefited the city. I have seen so many questionable  activities approved at city taxpayers’ expense.

I seem to recall that when Chattanooga city caved in and turned their school system over to the county that the debt obligation, retirement pension funding and other associated costs all fell into the county taxpayers' lap. We became liable for obligations made by the city. Please correct me if I am in error on that point.

The same will happen with the city’s bond debts, firefighter pension funding, police pension funding, any pending litigation against the city and who knows all the other expense commitments that we are not aware of.

In an opinion article by Deborah Scott, currently displayed on this forum, she said, "It would be unfair to ask or expect county residents or businesses who also reside in a city, to ante up additional tax monies to fund school needs within their cities.” That said, reverse the positions and I say it would be grossly unfair (and maybe even illegal?) to force city financial obligations upon county residents. State law allowed the city to dump their school system obligations on the county.

Yes, there “might” some cost savings in elimination of duplicate services but at the same time I seriously doubt county government could withstand a lawsuit challenging continuation of concentrated services (i.e. fire departments, garbage collection, etc.) while county residents are not afforded the same amenities. The answer? More cost to the county as those services unique to the city become mandatory county wide.

There is no reasonable and equitable answer to a consolidated city county government but from my perspective it would only further burden those of us on fixed incomes.

Tom Wheatley


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