Chattanooga mayor tells agencies to contact county for funding

Chattanooga mayor tells agencies to contact county for funding

April 29th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

Mayor Ron Littlefield told officials with several nonprofit and quasi-governmental agencies Thursday night they still need to ask the county to help fund their 2012 budgets.

"Contact the county," Littlefield said.

Chattanooga officials met with representatives from agencies notified about a month ago that they would get no county support for the fiscal year that starts July 1. City officials gave a half-hour presentation about the end of the 1966 sales tax agreement and how the city and those agencies should move forward.

But Littlefield said the county has a responsibility to at least partially fund some of those agencies.

"I think when it's all said and done, the county will do its part as well," Littlefield said.

The county is responsible for the health department, emergency services and Erlanger hospital.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger, reached by phone after the meeting, said the county will meet its obligations but is short on money for all other agencies.

"The reason we're looking at eliminating the funding is because the revenue source went away," he said.

The City Council voted two weeks ago to let the 45-year-old sales tax agreement with the county expire and keep about $10.5 million in sales tax money.

During Thursday's meeting, most of the questions centered on how much money agencies should ask from the city.

Phil Acord, executive director of the Children's Home-Chambliss Shelter, said his agency got a check from the county once a month.

He asked if the check would stop as soon as the agreement expires on May 23.

He said his agency still needs funding until the end of the fiscal year.

"That's what we're worried about, is the cash-flow situation," he said.

Dan Johnson, chief of staff for Littlefield, said the agreement indeed expires May 23, but specifies that those agencies will be funded through the end of the fiscal year.

David Turner, chairman of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library, said during the meeting he had no problems with how the sales tax agreement had panned out. The city has said it will fund all library branches within the city limits.

The only branch outside the city is in Collegedale.

"I tell you, we are tickled with the upcoming situation," Turner said.