published Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Andrae McGary turns into entrepreneur

McGary turns into entrepreneur

Chattanooga’s 48-hour launch was in full swing, as techie 20somethings and serial entrepreneurs made a flurry of business plan presentations to an enthusiastic crowd of more than 100.

The un-spoken dress code was torn jeans, beards and corduroy jackets, a trend shattered by surprise presenter Andrae McGary, Chattanooga city councilman.

Sporting a pressed pinstripe suit, McGary sauntered into the spotlight, quickly silencing the crowd’s murmuring with his practiced, baritone speaking voice.

“My idea is really simple,” he told the crowd, his city council pin sparkling in the light. “We take an off-line process and put it online.”

He was referring, of course, to his own job of crafting a city budget.

His idea is to create an application that allows all residents input into the city’s budgeting process.

“Chattanooga is serious about helping its citizens to create their own budget,” he told the crowd.

McGary’s in the competition to win, he said later, and hopes to use the $10,000 award to develop the application within the year.

“My aim is to better our world and our city in the process,” McGary said.

Haslam won’t hike state gas tax

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said last week he is “not close to proposing a change” in the state’s flat 20 cents-per-gallon gas tax, plus the 1.04 percent inspection and environmental fee. Nonetheless, the Tennessee Journal reports that the governor said he recognizes some change might be required in the future. More fuel-efficient cars, and new electric-powered vehicles like the battery-powered Nissan Leaf to be made in Smyrna, Tenn., will cut fuel taxes used for road construction.

“There’s no way 10 years from now we’re doing it the same way we are now,” Haslam said.

In the first quarter of the state’s fiscal year, while overall tax collections grew 6.2 percent, gas tax revenues in Tennessee fell by 4.15 percent.

Thanksgiving dinner costs up

The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner increased 13 percent this year, the American Farm Bureau Federation said last week.

The traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings for 10 people is estimated to cost $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s average of $43.47. The farm bureau insists at less than $5 per person, “this year’s meal remains a bargain.”

The big ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — came in at $21.57 this year. That was roughly $1.35 per pound, an increase of about 25 cents per pound, or a total of $3.91 per whole turkey, compared to 2010.

Best quarter since 2006 for sales tax

Taxable sales made their biggest quarterly gain since 2006 over the summer quarter, according to figures released last week by the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

Revenue collections in Tennessee for October, which represent September sales, were up 8 percent over a year ago. Sales tax collections were up 6.5 percent in the previous three months over year-ago levels — the highest quarterly gain since before the recession in 2006.

Mark Emkes, the state commissioner for Finance and Administration, said he was “satisfied with the positive growth rates experienced in our overall tax collections, especially in the sales tax, which is the best indicator of economic recovery in Tennessee.”

“However, we continue to watch national leading economic indicators, which show that very slow recovery is in progress, and in light of that and the uncertainty surrounding resolution of the federal budget, we must continue to be diligent in monitoring our spending patterns,” Emkes said.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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