published Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Chattanooga City Council OKs Mayor Andy Berke's restructuring plans


by Cliff Hightower
Mayor Andy Berke
Mayor Andy Berke

The Chattanooga City Council unanimously approved a major City Hall reorganization, but not without a warning to Mayor Andy Berke.

"If it succeeds, good," said Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem. "If not, it's your baby."

Hakeem told the newly sworn-in mayor that he "got what he wanted," and now Berke must make his plan to reform how city government functions work.

The City Council voted 9-0 to approve eliminating four departments and creating three others. The Education, Arts and Culture; Neighborhood Services; Parks and Recreation; and Human Services departments were dissolved.

The council approved creating the new departments of Youth and Family Development, Economic and Community Development and Transportation.

"Tonight, before you, we have something that is bold," Berke told the council.

Employees have a chance under the new system of government to provide better service and reach full potential for the city, he said.

"We need to unleash their power," Berke said.

Council members spoke for a few minutes during committee meetings about the reorganization.

"I tip my hat to you," Councilman Chip Henderson said. "You aren't just warming up leftovers."

Chief Operating Officer Andrew Kean offered more details about the reorganization. He said Memorial Auditorium, the Tivoli Theatre and the city's golf services would move under General Services. Parts of Education, Arts and Culture would move to Youth and Family Development.

Land Planning and the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency would now report to Economic and Community Development.

Public Works would be in charge of sewer, city engineering, citywide services and park maintenance.

Chief of Staff Travis McDonough said the changes are necessary. "It gives the taxpayer the best government at the best value," he said.

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