Hamilton County: Ramsey, commissioners oppose annexation

Hamilton County: Ramsey, commissioners oppose annexation

June 18th, 2009 by Matt Wilson in News

Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey and several county commissioners took a stand Wednesday against Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's plan to expand the city's boundaries.

"I'm going on record as opposing annexation," Mr. Ramsey told commissioners. "I always have opposed annexation unless a community wanted to come into a municipality."

Mr. Littlefield said what he is proposing shouldn't come as a surprise to county officials.

"We're following a plan that was negotiated between all the cities in the county and the county nearly a decade ago," he said.

Mr. Littlefield has said he wants to annex all property within the city's designated urban growth boundary, a 20-year county plan adopted in 2001. That area includes large swaths of East Brainerd, along state Highway 58 and Ooltewah and Hixson Pike.

Commissioner Larry Henry said residents in his district who live in areas that could be annexed are "dead-set opposed to this."

"They're satisfied with being in the county," he said.

Mr. Henry said his home and business were annexed into the city in 1972.

"From the standpoint of a citizen who lived in the city for 26 years, the city didn't provide one more service to me that I wasn't getting from the county with the exception of garbage service," he said.

But Mr. Littlefield argued that there are "very definite needs," especially for fire service, though he understands why folks would oppose annexation.

"No one wants to pay for it until their house catches on fire," he said.

Commission Chairman Jim Coppinger, whose district also includes areas that could be annexed, questioned whether the city will be able to provide services adequately to those areas.

"It would be nice if the city would be forthright about the amount of revenue it's going to generate for them as a result of annexation and also the cost of those services," he said.

Mr. Littlefield said officials are working on calculating those details and defining the territories to be annexed.

Commissioner John Allen Brooks, whose district mostly is within the Chattanooga city limits, said annexation might dilute services. He also said the plan is an "economic issue for the city to have more tax revenue" and that it's a bad idea to annex during a recession.

"This is poor timing," Mr. Brooks said.

Mr. Ramsey said he and Mr. Littlefield would continue to work together to consolidate governmental services.

HOW IT WORKS

* The city attorney's office must present a plan of services to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

* The planning commission votes on the plan.

* If approved, the plan will go before the City Council for two votes.