Voters May Decide In November On Whether To Eliminate City Court; Paving Fund Also Considered

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Chattanooga voters in November may get to vote on whether City Court should be abolished.

City Council members indicated during budget talks on Tuesday that may be an upcoming referendum question.

Councilman Jerry Mitchell said he, for one, "would vote to eliminate it."

However, he said the court would apparently run through 2021 when the eight-year terms of Judges Sherry Paty and Russell Bean end.

Assistant City Attorney Phil Noblett said should one of the judges retire or resign prior to that date the council could choose not to fill the post and that division of the court would apparently cease.

He said the city has to notify the election office within 60 days of the election to get it on the ballot.

However, the council will go along with the current $2.5 million court budget.

The duties of City Court have been diminishing, starting with the loss of criminal cases that ranged up to murder over an issue involving former Judge Walter Williams.

Most parking cases were removed when CARTA took over parking and set up a payment and appeals system.

The court continues to hear traffic and environmental cases, though the new Administrative Law Judge is starting to take some of the latter cases.

City Court has long been hampered by the fact that it can only levy fines up to $50 per day under the state Constitution. The hearing officers can set much stiffer penalties.

City Court occupies one courtroom on the second floor of the Courts Building between Market and Cherry. The clerk's office is on the ground floor.

Another item that could go before voters in November is whether to set up a special enterprise fund for paving.

Councilman Henderson, a staunch advocate for more paving of city streets, said a certain percentage of the overall budget might go to the fund.

The upcoming budget includes $6 million for paving. It had been as low as $3 million in recent years.

 

 

 


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