City Has Budget With No Tax Increase; Focuses On Employee Pay Increases

  • Tuesday, April 30, 2024

The city of Chattanooga's upcoming budget will not include a tax increase, the City Council was told Tuesday.

Ryan Ewalt, city chief operating officer, said that is the case though many cities across the country are raising taxes and making "draconian cuts."

He said the $336,465,000 budget includes just $7.4 million in increased revenue.

Mr. Ewalt said almost $7 million of that will go for pay increases for fire and police as well as other city employees.

The budget includes $10 million for paving and pothole repair and $500,000 for additional pedestrian safety improvements.

Revenue figures include $191.9 million from property tax and $70.2 million from sales tax.

The budget includes 23 more police officers and nine more firefighters. 

"Public safety is a high, high priority," Mr. Ewalt said.

There will be an additional police mental health crisis co-responder and an additional fire investigator. 

He said every sworn police officer and fire employee will get a raise. 

All non-sworn pay plan employees will be placed on steps based on years of service.  

Mr. Ewalt said the work load at the City Court Clerk's office has gone down about 48 percent over the past five years. As a result, he said the staff will be reduced by about half.

Total planned capital spending will be $186.3 million.

There will be $2.5 million to begin replacement of fire station #14 in St. Elmo and $100,000 for the violence interrupter program.

Other budget items include $3.5 million for Broad street redesign, $2 million toward improving the I-75 interchange at Hamilton Place, $500,000 toward a program to power garbage trucks from converted waste, and $100,000 for elective vehicle charging stations.

It also includes $1 million for the affordable housing fund, $2.15 million to replace the 25-year-old ChattTown Skate Park, $1.25 million for a multi-purpose youth field at the Patten Center in Lookout Valley, and $50,000 for a new Shallowford paddling access park.

There will be $2 million for the Kelley Building (no relation to mayor) for a minority business hub.

CARTA is to get $1.5 million for renovation, rehab and maintenance of vehicles and facilities along with $5.8 million for operations.

Mr. Ewalt said $3 million is dedicated to rehabbing unused space in city-owned buildings to cut down on lease expenses. One example is at the City Hall Annex across from City Hall.

He said wastewater officials have been able to save $9 million by finding creative ways to do projects in-house rather than bidding them out.

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