published Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Coppinger warns homeless health care center only beginning

by Dan Whisenhunt

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger this morning warned that the county's decision to suspend a homeless health care center on 11th Street is just the beginning. The project was a joint effort with the city of Chattanooga.

Coppinger said the looming expiration of a sales tax agreement with the City of Chattanooga is causing the county to reevaluate everything. When the agreement expires next month, the county stands to lose $10.5 million in revenue used to fund local agencies.

"I pulled the resolution about the homeless clinic," Coppinger said. "It just happened to be the first item that came up. I don't know why this was a surprise to anyone. ...It just happened to be the homeless clinic that's first but there's others to come."

Commissioners also once again pointed out that the $85 million in its reserve fund is not going to be used to shore up funding for agencies.

Commissioner Fred Skillern tied the county's financial management to yesterday's devastating storms that left scores of people dead and obliterated parts of the South.

"We've got past and present staff, past and present mayors, past and present commissioners, we ought to be thankful they did manage this county's money the way it's been managed," Skillern said. "With all this devastation, we're not having to raise taxes to help with the cleanup."

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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