Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield offered today to have the city fund some public libraries and the Regional Planning Agency and asked County Mayor Jim Coppinger to consider appointing a charter study commission.
Littlefield made the offer in a letter to Coppinger, who had written him earlier this week about the coming expiration of the 45-year-old city-county sales tax agreement.
Coppinger’s letter sought to work out funding for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, Erlanger Health Systems, Emergency Services and the Regional Planning Agency.
“The first three of these agencies were jointly supported before the expiring agreement was established and we ask that they continue to be jointly supported by our respective governments,” Coppinger wrote.
Littlefield’s letter said the city would fund Bicentennial Library branches in the city, the Regional Planning Agency and “some additional smaller agency responsibilities that relate specifically to the urban service needs of the city.”
It said that will allow the county to “assume full responsibility” for countywide services. He noted that Hamilton County added $32 million to its reserve fund over the last four years.
Littlefield has said the agreement forces city residents to pay twice for services and has said he will let it expire next month. That will transfer more than $10 million from county coffers to the city.
Coppinger said letting the agreement lapse could cost more than two dozen agencies some funding, but the city has said it will hear budget requests from those groups.
Littlefield said that “to seek a permanent solution to recurring issues of equity and responsibility,” the county and city should jointly appoint a charter study commission aimed at consolidating and improving citizen services.