Homeless clinic victim of tax pact lapse

Homeless clinic victim of tax pact lapse

April 29th, 2011 by Dan Whisenhunt in News

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger says no one should be surprised that he postponed plans to relocate a homeless health care center on 11th Street that was a joint venture with the city.

In fact, he said Thursday, that may be just the beginning of the fallout from the expiring sales-tax agreement between the county and Chattanooga.

"It was a time-sensitive issue, and we had to make a decision about that clinic," Coppinger said at Thursday's County Commission agenda session. "We're just trying to do what leadership does and do the responsible thing."

When the sales-tax agreement ends in May, the county will lose $10.5 million in annual revenue used to fund agencies with the city.

Commissioners also took time Thursday to again defend the county's $85 million in reserves after several minutes spent talking about Wednesday's storms.

Commissioner Fred Skillern linked the reserve funds to Wednesday's disaster, saying the county's history of financial management means there will be no tax increases to pay for storm-recovery efforts.

"Some counties are in the shape that every ripple, they have to raise taxes," Skillern said after the meeting.

Coppinger said he expects the county to receive federal money for disaster relief, but said rescue and cleanup efforts are his current priority, not how the work will be funded.

"We're trying to put some normalcy into people's lives," Coppinger said.

In other action, commissioners next week will consider banning smoking at the Enterprise South Nature Park.

Chief of Staff Jeannine Alday told commissioners if a fire started at the park it would be difficult to control.

"That park, with its heavy forest, is particularly vulnerable to fires," Alday said.