Chattanooga City Council votes 7-1 to OK $95 million capital budget

Chattanooga City Council votes 7-1 to OK $95 million capital budget

July 11th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

The Chattanooga City Council is pictured in this file photo.

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BY THE NUMBERS

$95 million: Total amount of fiscal year 2012-13 capital budget.

$50.5 million: Amount of government-funded projects using bonds, general service funds, state and federal grants.

$44.5 million: Money generated from dedicated enterprise funds such as stormwater and sewer fees.

Source: City of Chattanooga

The Chattanooga City Council approved a $95 million capital budget Tuesday night that includes complete repairs on the 21st Century Waterfront and an indoor firing range for police.

But one council member tried to rally support around one last item: Putting more money into roads.

"Is this as much passion as we can get for roads?" Councilwoman Deborah Scott asked the council in a specially called meeting.

Councilman Manny Rico responded that there are many needs in a city the size of Chattanooga.

"There's a lot of other things to take care of, as well," he said.

Scott was the lone "no" in the 7-1 vote for the capital budget, saying the budget did not reflect the needs for pavement management.

Councilman Peter Murphy was absent.

The budget includes $8 million for fixing the hard edge of the 21st Century Waterfront, which is cracking, $1 million for an indoor firing range and more than $1 million for fixing the Hixson Recreation Center.

But the fight Tuesday centered around roads and paving them.

At one point, the discussion became so heated, Scott turned completely around in her chair to face Mayor Ron Littlefield. The mayor kept saying the $1.7 million allocation for the city's paving plan was enough and showed how the city put a high emphasis on fixing roads.

Littlefield said the road he lives on hasn't been paved since 1986 and he doesn't care because "it doesn't need it."

"We don't go around and pave roads that don't need paving," he said.

The mayor said the $1.7 million combined with other pools of money set aside for road construction was sufficient for the present needs.

But Scott said a recent study conducted for the city showed that about $8 million a year is needed to keep roads from deteriorating. She said the city is putting a drop in the bucket compared with what is actually needed.

"It's not close to adequate," she said.

"That's your opinion," Littlefield responded.

Another item Scott brought up, moving city elections from March to the November general election and setting term limits for council members also fell short. The rest of the council agreed those items could wait until later to be discussed.

But the council voted 7-0 to defer an ordinance for a week that would rework the city's guidelines for recalling the mayor and council members. The council will talk once more about that item next week during another Budget and Finance Committee meeting.