City of Chattanooga looks at cuts to some agencies

City of Chattanooga looks at cuts to some agencies

June 8th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

Daisy Madison, CFO for the city of Chattanooga

A total of nine agencies could face some budget cuts in the 2011-12 fiscal year as Chattanooga continues to try to find funding for additional agencies coming aboard after the expiration of the sales-tax agreement between the city and Hamilton County.

Daisy Madison, the city's chief financial officer, told the City Council Tuesday she would work out some numbers and report back to the council next week.

"I'll bring back some options," she said.

The City Council met for the second time for a budget workshop dealing with next fiscal year's budget. The majority of the meeting's talk centered around how to fund six additional agencies added this year after the 45-year-old sales-tax agreement expired last month.

The agreement spelled out how the city and the county broke down their financial responsibilities for agencies jointly funded by the pair. With the agreement's ending, the city now gains about $10 million that it will dole out to agencies.

The county has said it does not have the money to fund these agencies and told them to ask the city for the money. The city planned to fund these agencies until it was told it would be required to pay 2 percent of its sales tax to the county as a fee for the county's tax-collection services.

WHAT'S NEXT

The City Council will meet 11 a.m. next Tuesday for its next budget workshop and will hear from the Finance Department on cuts to agencies.

The city found out last week it will only have to pay 1 percent for those services, saving about $365,000, but officials still don't know how much the city can give the additional agencies.

PROPOSED CUTTING

Council members gave the Finance Department a list of agencies to potentially cut, including:

  • Allied Arts

  • Bessie Smith Cultural Center

  • Chattanooga Area Urban League

  • Chattanooga History Center

  • Choose Chattanooga

  • Community Foundation Scholarships

  • Friends of Moccasin Bend

  • Front Porch Alliance

  • WTCI-Channel 45

Source: Chattanooga

Madison and Dan Johnson, chief of staff for Mayor Ron Littlefield, suggested to council members Tuesday that the Finance Department should look at any increased budgets of agencies from last year and perhaps give them the same funding levels.

Councilwoman Deborah Scott said the city had to set priorities and start looking at agencies that do provide necessary services. For example, given the choice, she said, she would take away spending on scholarships for children to help the mentally impaired. When choosing between money for a rape crisis center run by the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults or money for Friends of Moccasin Bend, she would choose the rape crisis center.

The council is expected to meet next week to hear the administration's proposal.

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