published Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Chattanooga City Council OKs capital budget


by Cliff Hightower

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BY THE NUMBERS

14: Current number of library board members

7: Number of members on the library board after it becomes a city-only entity

11: Number of library board members the city hopes to change to next year

Source: Chattanooga City Council

The Chattanooga City Council approved a $57 million capital budget Tuesday night and also began taking steps to change the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library board.

The council approved the 2011-12 fiscal year capital budget with little discussion in an 8-1 vote. Councilwoman Deborah Scott voted no.

About $37 million of the budget goes to public improvements and infrastructure, while the rest comes from self-sustaining funds such as sewer and water quality fees.

It was the second and final reading for the budget, which passed its first reading 7-1 last week.

The council also voted 7-0 to approve an ordinance change for the library board on first reading. The change would allow the city to appoint a city-only library board. The current board is made up of city and Hamilton County appointees, but the city has taken over funding the library after the city and county's joint funding agreement ended in May.

The board also would be dropped from 14 to seven members.

City Councilman AndraƩ McGary raised questions about the wording of the ordinance, which stated the board should consist of men and women.

"Why not include minority representation?" McGary asked.

City Attorney Mike McMahan said he agreed there should be a multicultural or minority presence, but he said state law specifically spells out there must be men and women.

"The reason for it is because women are more likely to serve on a library board than men," he said. "It's just to make sure men are appointed."

McMahan said Mayor Ron Littlefield hopes to have state legislation approved next year allowing the city to appoint 11 members to the board. If that occurs, it would give the city a chance to also look at minority representation, he said.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Littlefield, said Tuesday the mayor would begin changes to the library board as soon as the council approves the ordinance on second reading.

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