published Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Office of Sustainability folding into Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency


by Cliff Hightower
David Crockett, director for the City of Chattanooga's Office of Sustainability
David Crockett, director for the City of Chattanooga's Office of Sustainability
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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The Office of Sustainability will fold into the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency after its director announced he would step down next month.

David Crockett, the city's director of the Office of Sustainability, will resign his post June 30.

"I had planned on stepping down sometime this year," Crockett said. "Now seems to be as good of a time as any."

Crockett announced his decision in a news release minutes before a meeting with the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee. The city had decided to fund the department $100,000 the next fiscal year.

Mayor Ron Littlefield addressed the council before Crockett and told them how the city has drug out a $2 million federal grant for two and a half years to fund the office. But the money is almost gone.

"This is a recognition of realities," Littlefield said. "We've exhausted the funds."

Crockett said it would take at least $500,000 for the office to remain viable as a standalone.

Littlefield said the department will be integrated into the RPA with two employees -- a coordinator and a grant writer.

Crockett asked the council to consider adding another $150,000 to the budget of the office this year in order to hire more personnel for data collection and to help continue some of his sustainability issues.

"They are important programs," he said.

John Bridger, executive director of the RPA, said over the next two weeks he will have to look at whether more staff will be needed. He said he would have to look at the whole picture and see how all departments can work together for sustainability.

"I'm going to be learning," he said.

Littlefield placed Crockett in the director's office in December 2009. He earns a salary of around $76,000 annually. Crockett represented District 3 on the City Council from 1990 to 2001. He ran for mayor in 2001 and lost to former Mayor Bob Corker.

Littlefield said afterward it was Crockett's decision to step down.

Councilman Jack Benson said he thought the decision to move the Office of Sustainability to the RPA was wise and that Crockett helped in the transition.

"That's where it should be," Benson said. "[Crockett] helped plant the seed."

But Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she would have to look at the budget and see if the $100,000 should even be given to keep the program running.

"Everything is suspect for me," she said.

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