Hamilton County: Commission tries to correct perceptions of reserve funds

Hamilton County: Commission tries to correct perceptions of reserve funds

April 14th, 2011 by Dan Whisenhunt in Local - Breaking News

In this file photo, Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry participates in a county commission meeting at the courthouse.

This morning Hamilton County commissioners said they want the public to understand that the county's $85 million in reserve funds is spoken for.

"It's all earmarked," commission Chairman Larry Henry said. "Fifty-one million has to be designated to the three months of operating budget."

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said there is $30 million obligated to build Red Bank Middle School.

He said the commission first will use commercial paper, a form of short-term debt, to build the middle school, but the county will turn all of that debt into a long-term bond issue.

County Administrator of Finance Louis Wright said the balance of the reserve fund is for debt service.

"That has caused that number to be larger, because we don't have a separate debt service balance," Wright said.

The issue of the county's reserve fund has come up during a debate over the end of a 45-year-old sales tax agreement between the city of Chattanooga and the county.

The county stands to lose $10.5 million in revenue when the sales tax agreement expires, but city leaders have suggested the county use its reserve funds.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.