The Chattanooga Association of Realtors announced Friday that it opposes Mayor Ron Littlefield's proposed 33 percent property tax increase for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Association President Randy Durham said he believes the City Council will "wisely" examine "want versus need" within the mayor's proposed budget that calls for a 64-cent tax hike.
"The mayor has spoken of 'tough choices' if there is not a tax increase," Mr. Durham said in a prepared statement. "As Realtors, we believe that property owners will have almost no choices at regarding their family finances if they are presented with this illogical and unnecessary added tax burden."
Mr. Durham said the local economy is gradually coming back to life from one of the worst recessions in a lifetime.
"It's not beyond question that it could come undone by unwise choices made my our political leadership," he said.
As the City Council's Budget, Personnel and Finance Committee ended Tuesday, Councilwoman Carol Berz, chairwoman of the committee, asked if any council members had questions.
The committee had just heard a 10-minute presentation about post-employment benefits.
"No questions?" Dr. Berz asked.
"I'm still in shock over this budget right here," Councilwoman Deborah Scott replied, pointing at a copy of Mayor Ron Littlefield's proposed 2010-2011 fiscal year budget.
"I'm with you," Councilman Manny Rico added.
SHOCK, AWE AND MEDICAL TREATMENT
The City Council was going over the agenda for the regular scheduled business meeting when Dan Johnson, chief of staff for Mayor Ron Littlefield, suddenly stopped and asked if Councilwoman Pam Ladd had a question.
"I didn't have a question," Ms. Ladd replied. "I was just handing Barry a cough drop. Doing my medical part."
Barry Bennett is executive director for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency.
"That's Deborah's job," Mr. Rico said, talking about Councilwoman Deborah Scott, who is a registered nurse.
"Yeah, but she's in shock," Ms. Ladd replied.
A GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING?
Council members heard Tuesday about a 5-acre tract of land near the old Farmer's Market that was being donated to the city by its owner.
But Councilwoman Deborah Scott said she did not want to take the land because of the possibility of paying money to conduct environmental tests on the property. City officials said part of the tract had been contaminated and would be cleaned up by a federal and state grant.
But officials also admitted they would have to periodically spend money on the property for well testing.
"I don't see why we're wanting to take this on, especially at this time, at this year," Mrs. Scott said.
"They're wanting to give it to us," City Attorney Mike McMahan said.
"I can see why," Mrs. Scott replied.
Councilman Jack Benson added his own insight.
"I don't want any more puppies on my front door either," he said.
READ 20 REACHES MILESON
Hamilton County's reading initiative, Read 20, continues to supply books to students, according to a news release from County Mayor Claude Ramsey's spokesman.
The initiative, partnered with Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S), gave the county's 20 middle schools 1,200 books.
"This continues the mission of Read 20 to have children reading on a third-grade level by the time they graduate the third grade," Mr. Ramsey said in the news release. "We want the lessons learned in elementary school to continue in the upper grades."
The Hamilton County School Board recognized Read 20 at its regular meeting on Thursday.
Other county business
The Hamilton County Commission approved several other items at its regular meeting on Wednesday.
* Rezoned 8903 Harriet Lane from an agricultural district to a single family residential district.
* Rezoned several pieces of property at Brushwood Lane from agricultural to a residential townhouse district.
* Approved the $18,938 purchase of election ballots for the May 4 primary.
* Approved a $947,244 contract with the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole for continuing the Hamilton County Felony Community Corrections Program.
* Amended the list of roads and speed limits, changing the speed limit of Blue Spruce Drive from 30 mph to 25 mph, and Oak Forest Lane and Mountain Ash Drive from 30 mph to 20 mph.
* Amended the master list of roads to accept Red Poppy Drive and an extension of Trout Lily Drive so the commission can establish speed limits.
* Changed the name of Freedom Bay Loop to Waterside Way.
* Awarded an $83,600 contract to Insight Public Sector for EMC2 Clariion Storage Area Network for the county information technology services department.
* Awarded a $31,763 contract to Dell Marketing L.P. for Microsoft Office Professional 2007 licenses and media for the county's IT department.
Compiled by staff writers Cliff Hightower and Dan Whisenhunt. Cliff Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dan Whisenhunt can be reached at email@example.com.