The City Council on Tuesday discussed the idea of using income from the city sticker to fund city road improvements.
Councilman Jerry Mitchell said it could generate an additional $400,000. The only other way to increase funding without getting state approval, he said, would be to raise the sales tax, which would affect more people and which he said he opposed.
The stickers are required for people who live in the city limits and own a car, not for those who only drive in Chattanooga. The council is considering ways to enforce the requirement. The decals should be purchased through the county at the time of registration or renewal of state tags, but the county is not enforcing it, officials said.
"It’s not their tax and the county does not get the money," said City Finance Officer Daisy Madison. "Now, if a person doesn’t want to buy the sticker, they are not pushed to do so."
The council will pursue finding a way to enforce the law. Using different color stickers for residents of Chattanooga is one possibility, suggested City Attorney Phil Noblett.
Fine-tuning the way that Chattanooga regulates short term rentals is also being discussed by the council. Currently, locations that are owner occupied are approved if all requirements laid out by the city are met unless there are complaints or concerns from neighbors of the property. If that is the case, they must come before the council to receive the certification.
There is concern about non owner-occupied residences which must automatically be reviewed by the council in order to be approved. If they are denied, owners of those properties routinely reapply as “owner-occupied,” said Council member Demetrus Coonrod.
The council members also discussed if all inspections and requirements should be clearly defined and met before an applicant appears before the council. Now there is leniency which allows work to make repairs or fix deficiencies after the council gives approval so the owner does not incur expenses if certification is denied.
Inspections by the city can be done after repairs are completed, but a permit is not issued until all requirements are met. Council member Carol Berz suggested including language in the ordinance that says approval will be on the condition that inspections are passed. Property owners are now given 60 days from the application to have needed work done.
The practice of providing the council with a quarterly capital fund status report was presented for the first time at the planning meeting. There are around 600 capital projects in the works at any one time. Most are multi-year projects, the council was told, and some are continuous, such as upkeep of the parks.
Some of the expenses that come out of the council’s general budget and other expenses that will come out of a special events fund were defined for the record. One item that was clarified was a special event such as a luncheon. If at least five members vote approval, the cost would come out of the special events fund, not the council person’s individual fund of $6,000.
Council member Coonrod requested that travel expenses, including airfare, hotels and rental cars which are now reimbursable expenses, be paid in advance. Ms. Madison responded that the city does offer paying in advance, based on costs related to individual cities. These expenses would be charged against the individual’s allowance.