published Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Chattanooga capital budget passes first test


by Cliff Hightower

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WHAT'S NEXT

The City Council will vote next Tuesday on the second and final reading of the city's 2012-13 fiscal year capital budget during its regularly scheduled business meeting.

The Chattanooga City Council approved a first reading of the 2012-13 fiscal year capital budget 5-2 Tuesday.

But it still has a gauntlet to go through next week.

Mayor Ron Littlefield amended the budget suddenly Tuesday, throwing in money for a new indoor firing range for police. Councilwoman Deborah Scott laid down concerns ranging from repairs to the 21st Century Waterfront and more money needed for road paving.

Councilman Russell Gilbert and Councilwoman Deborah Scott vote no. Councilman Peter Murphy abstained and Councilwoman Sally Robinson was absent from the meeting.

Littlefield told the council the city and the county have scoured Hamilton County looking for an outdoor range. But the county has turned too urban.

"There is nothing out there," he said. "We do need a firing range."

He said there are two options available: the old U.S. Army Reserve Center or a warehouse on the back side of the old Farmer's Market.

City administrators moved around money from other parts of the capital budget to wheedle together $1 million for the range. Littlefield said the city already has $1 million in grants for the project and he expects to receive $1 million from other government sources.

The city's capital budget is $98 million for this fiscal year. It includes items such as $8 million to repair the 21st Century Waterfront, $1.5 million for the Hixson Recreation Center and $1.5 million for paving.

Scott took issue with the waterfront fixes, saying she thought they could come in less. She also said she thought the recreation center was not a top priority and suggested moving that money into the paving fund.

"I won't be voting for this budget because it has allocations to other priorities and I think roads needs more," Scott said.

The council will talk more about the capital budget at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council building.

In other news, the City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday night to approve an ordinance on first reading that would allow the Chattanooga Area Regional Transit Authority to take control of downtown parking enforcement.

CARTA plans to have ambassadors downtown to ticket vehicles parked illegally, while also helping tourists.

Scott voted no.

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