As dozens of people were turned away from the City Council Chambers this afternoon, city officials outlined the cost to expand employee benefits for couples in domestic partnerships, including gay couples.
The city's Human Resource Department said the added cost for the city would likely be 1 percent of the city's annual benefit costs, or about $168,000. Officials also outlined strict rules that would apply for employees to have to prove they were in a relationship and had lived together for at least a year.
All 166 seats in the City Council building were packed 30 minutes before today's public hearing on the issue began. Fire officials stood at the door and counted as people came and went, letting a limited amount of people inside in keeping with the room's maximum capacity.
Residents on both sides, including pastors, organizers and a police officer, all spoke, pleading for the City Council to hear their side.
At tonight's regular City Council meeting, residents will also have a chance to speak during the citizen comment part of the evening. This will be the last chance to address the council publicly because it will become an agenda item next Tuesday.
Read tomorrow's Times Free Press for complete details.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...