Chattanooga City Council OKs attempt for $800,000 in federal grants

Chattanooga City Council OKs attempt for $800,000 in federal grants

January 22nd, 2014 by Joy Lukachick Smith in Local Regional News

Chattanooga City Hall

Photo by Meghan Brown

The City Council OK'd officials to go after $800,000 in federal grants for job training and multiple brownfields cleanup projects, including one in Alton Park.

If the city were awarded the grants, officials would partner with BrightBridge for the $200,000 cleanup on the 500 block of East 38th Street. and the city would have to match 20 percent of the funds at $40,000.

Chattanooga Economic and Community Development Director Donna Williams said the city would also team up with Enterprise Center for a second grant for $400,000 to clean up another brownfield site. The site could be in any economically vulnerable community, which could include sites in East Chattanooga, Alton Park or Brainerd.

City Council also approved Williams to apply for a third grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for $200,000 and if awarded the city would partner with Enterprise Center for training for environmental-related jobs.

Enterprise Center was awarded the same EPA grant in 2011 and in March 2013 graduated its second class of 25 students. The program kicked off in 2012 and officials said of the first 18 students to graduate, 13 found full-time jobs in manufacturing, construction or transportation.

The City Council also voted to allow the city attorney's office to alter an ordinance on collection fees, which could give the city's collection agency more leeway to collect other city fines.

And after weeks of debate on how an ordinance could affect city employees who want to run for public office, the City Council also voted 8-1 to approve the first reading of Councilman Chris Anderson's ordinance.

The ordinance would let city employees that run for office to continue work and not be required to take leave unless there is a conflict of interest. So far only three city employees have qualified to run in the Hamilton County elections: Judges Russell Bean and Sherry Paty are running to keep their current seats and City Court Officer Greg Beck is running to keep his seat on the Hamilton County Commission.

It was because of Beck that Anderson said he chose to pursue this ordinance change. A circuit court judge ruled in Beck's favor five years ago after he sued the city. Beck was allowed to continue working while he ran for office and the judge called Chattanooga's ordinance likely unconstitutional.

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