Weston Wamp Cautions Against Civil Service For County Employees, Says Stadium Project Leaves Taxpayers With Potential Heavy Liabilities

  • Tuesday, October 25, 2022
  • Gail Perry
Weston Wamp
Weston Wamp

County Mayor Weston Wamp, touching a wide range of topics at the Pachyderm Club, cautioned about installing civil service for county employees and said the Southside Stadium project was too rushed and leaves taxpayers with heavy liabilities.


Having the job of Hamilton County Mayor is a tremendous honor, said the speaker. He spoke about how Tennessee dominates and how Hamilton County fits in.

 He said Tennessee is widely considered to be the best place in America to do business and he credited that to Republicans taking the lead in Nashville in 2010 and recruiting industries to move into the state.  “Tennessee’s momentum is in no way overstated,” he said.


He said Bill Kilbride, chairman of the TVA Board and past president at Mohawk Home, has cautioned him not to give away tax money unnecessarily. He said, "A lot of credit goes to the leadership in Nashville and the Chattanooga delegation is extraordinary. Governor Bill Lee cannot get much done without them."


He talked about “conservative thoughts” which he sees that relate to success for Hamilton County starting with patience. He said he takes a deliberate approach to things. His characteristic of being intense is different than being in a hurry, he stated. He said that patience is not rushing to  make a change. “We’re called on to preserve the conservative intention and vision of the founders. They got most things right," he said. "It is the conservative way to build on what we inherited.”


There is a need for transparency and accountability for conservatives, said the county mayor. One example that he took action on Monday relates to the way that Hamilton County handles email. CTAS, County Technical Assistance Service, which provides assistance to counties in Tennessee, recommends that the counties hold emails for a period of five years, he said, but Hamilton County has been operating with a  “far-fetched interpretation,” which was to hold email for 10 days. In that amount of time, people cannot be held responsible, he commented.


Anther theme of conservatism, he said, is that smart people can make better decisions for their families than government. "Our private sector knows best."


He said that he hopes to revisit the issue of civil service for county employees. He said in 2011 Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam rolled back civil service in the state in which it had been entrenched. So did past President Donald Trump. He said civil service has led to breeding corruption. He wants to keep the employees he has, and he said that at this time it is hard to find good, qualified employees.


In response to questions from the Pachyderm Club members, he gave some thoughts on the new Southside development, saying it has been an example of things getting rushed through. He said this is one of the biggest public projects in the history of the city. Talk of it has gone quiet at the moment because it is more complex than all the rushing through allowed for, he stated. He said the  part he did not like was that it was pitched as a “no-risk proposition.” But he said all the risk, in reality, is actually on the taxpayers if something goes wrong. And an even bigger project will be announced soon that will affect the development on  South Broad, he said.


When asked, Mr. Wamp said he wouldn’t talk about the county attorney issue or about potential replacements.  


What is the difference in a city and county mayor, was another question asked. “You have to live in the county," he said, "but not in the city.” Cities do not have to provide anything, he said, “they put the ornaments on the trees with added services. The county is where the rubber meets the road.  The county provides essential services to unincorporated areas in the county that are more rural in nature. But now those areas are becoming more urban, and a new need will be to provide more bandwidth. The areas in eastern Hamilton County such as Soddy Daisy, Sale Creek and Mowbray Mountain are the logical growth areas for the county. People there take pride in way of life and with development, it will be important to respect that and try to preserve it."


As for trade schools, he said there is not much land available near the city of Chattanooga. He hopes to create new revenue streams for developing new schools rather than increasing taxes. He said one of his biggest priorities will be reviving City High and Kirkman High School, both which were close to downtown but were closed. He said that both a new traditional college track high school and a technical high school are needed in Hamilton County.  He said a challenge here is that there is a proliferation of private education that the public schools have to compete with. He said, "Part of what we have to do is to build new, beautiful schools, not just patch roofs."




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