As revenue rises, City of Chattanooga boosts pay

As revenue rises, City of Chattanooga boosts pay

July 5th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

Daisy Madison, CFO for the city of Chattanooga

FOLLOW THE MONEY

  • $201 million: Chattanooga's 2011-2012 budget

  • $10.3 million: Revenue from expiration of the sales-tax agreement

  • $4.9 million: Other revenue increases

Source: Chattanooga

Pam Ladd

Growth in several kinds of revenue led to Chattanooga's boosting city workers' pay this year even as other Tennessee cities laid off employees.

"We're getting enough from a variety of sources," said Councilwoman Carol Berz, chairwoman of the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee.

A review of the city's 2011-12 budget shows revenue increased by $15.2 million this year. The fiscal year began Friday.

Most of that - about $10 million - comes from the expiration of a sales tax agreement with Hamilton County. But Berz said that money is earmarked strictly for quasi-governmental and social service agencies.

"It's strictly in and out," she said. "You can't count that for anything."

About $5 million more comes from increases in property tax revenue, more money from EPB and growth in sales tax collections.

The budget provides $2.8 million for employee pay increases. It also has a $1.2 million fix for a firefighter pay anomaly, $620,000 for a police career ladder and $1 million to fix pay anomalies for nonsworn employees - generally, civilians who handle administrative duties and have not gone through the fire or police academy.

Other portions of the budget also had increases, like $1 million added to the city's paving program.

Daisy Madison, the city's chief financial officer, said she projected conservatively this year, but the growth outpaced her projections.

In the end, that led to some extra money that could be used to help compensate employees, she said.

She said the growth indicates the economy is picking up, but there's no way to know if it will keep going into the next year.

Anyway, costs may go up as well, she said.

"Do I expect inflation to grow?" Madison asked. "Do I expect revenue to grow? The trick is one doesn't outgrow the other."

The city at least fared better than some other Tennessee municipalities. Last week, Memphis laid off 125 workers.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd expects to see growth next year.

"Chattanooga did not dip as far as many other cities," she said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CliffHightower.