published Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

City, county weigh temporary sales-tax agreement


by Cliff Hightower

Chattanooga City Councilwoman Deborah Scott says she wants the council to take a three-step approach to fixing the joint sales-tax agreement between the city and Hamilton County.

But she warned that the result may not be the same as what guided last year’s city budget talks — the sales-tax agreement that has been in place for 45 years but expires in May.

“I think it will look different than last year,” Scott said.

The agreement determines how much the city and county contribute to various jointly funded agencies such as the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library, Erlanger Health System and the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department. The city stands to gain $10.5 million in revenue from the expiration of the agreement.

The Chattanooga City Council met Tuesday morning for the first of several meetings regarding the 2011-12 fiscal year budget. It heard a five-year projection of the city’s operating budget from Chief Financial Officer Daisy Madison.

The second half of the meeting centered around Scott’s giving council members a presentation on the agreement.

Scott said she had a three-step process for fixing the agreement: Let it expire, come up with a one-year temporary agreement then rework the existing agreement into something for the future.

Mayor Ron Littlefield told the council he approved of the measure.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Chattanooga City Council will meet 6 p.m. Thursday for a called meeting to start hearing requests from nonprofit agencies. The council will meet at the City Council building on Lindsay Street.

“I think that’s a good solution, going to a transition phase,” Littlefield said.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Tuesday he would have no problems looking at a temporary fix.

“Having that time, I think it would be a great opportunity to work out a new agreement,” he said.

County Commissioner Jim Fields, who is leading a committee looking at the agreement, said he and Coppinger had talked about ironing out a temporary solution. He said he would not be opposed to such a deal.

“I didn’t realize the city was thinking about it,” he said. “Anything could be considered.”

Staff writer Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this story.

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