published Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Chattanooga City Council waiting for mayor's decisions


by Cliff Hightower

Chattanooga City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said Wednesday he wants to move ahead with committee appointments for the City Council, but how those committees will be defined is up in the air.

"We expect some changes in the departments," he said. "We just want to get the basics in place."

The council elected Hakeem chairman and Chip Henderson vice chairman on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Carol Berz was informed she would stay chairwoman of the Budget Committee, and Hakeem named Councilman Ken Smith chairman of the Public Works Committee.

Council members said those posts were named right away because they are essential committees dealing with departments that likely won't change much.

"We're just waiting on a little bit more information on structure," said Councilman Jerry Mitchell.

Mayor Andy Berke said last week he planned to unveil a new structure for city government -- "as soon as possible" -- before naming new department heads in key positions.

Berke spokeswoman Lacie Stone said Wednesday there were no updates on the mayor's restructuring.

Mitchell said he is interested in leading the personnel committee, but everything depends upon what Berke proposes.

Councilman Larry Grohn said he is interested in leading an audit committee.

Councilman Moses Freeman said he would be interested in public safety; Henderson said he would be interested in parks and recreation and Councilman Chris Anderson said he would be interested in economic development.

"I think it works better if we mirror the administration," Anderson said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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