Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke gets $100,000 for budget work

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke gets $100,000 for budget work

October 30th, 2013 by Joy Lukachick Smith in Local - Breaking News

Andy Berke

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

The Chattanooga City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to give Mayor Andy Berke nearly $100,000 to bring in a consulting firm to help implement the key part of next year's city budget.

Tuesday's entire agenda session was spent talking about why the administration needed to bring the PFM Group to work with each city department to implement budgeting for outcomes, which is the common private-sector practice of tying funding to performance.

This year Berke's staff piloted the idea of budgeting for outcomes with $7 million of the budget, or 3 percent, for initiatives such as adding 40 more police officers on the street and a city-funded federal prosecutor.

But Berke's deputy chief of operations Brent Goldberg, told the City Council the extra help was necessary to guide the administration for the next nine months and help implement ways to measure performance indicators for programs for the 2015 budget.

"This is difficult work," Goldberg said. "No city has implemented BFO without engaging outside experts."

Last week, several council members said they were surprised to see the request on the table because the council wasn't aware that an outside agency was needed for the budgeting process. Administration officials said they had planned to hire an outside consultant all along.

After Tuesday's meeting, two council members said they agreed the outside agency was needed, but they wish they had known about it ahead of time.

During the agenda session, Councilman Chip Henderson wanted to know if this $96,000 was the only money needed asking: "will we have to spend additional dollars to create this budgeting for outcomes?"

Goldberg said the contract for services was for one year.

Councilman Moses Freeman told the administration if they needed more money, he would be happy to OK it.

Tuesday night, there was also standing room only after the council announcement Monday a public hearing to listen to both sides argue on whether the city should extend benefits to employees in same-sex partnerships, an ordinance that hasn't been introduced.

The public hearing is next Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., but supporters and those opposed filled the seats including Kat Cooper, who helped implement benefits for employees in domestic partnerships in Collegedale-- the first city in Tennessee to do so.

"God loves us and his word is true and we can't afford to bring his judgment on this city," one man said, as more than half the audience clapped and shouted their approval.

Others clapped when people stood and said they were Christians, too, but wanted gay employees to have the same benefits.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.