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Dan Whisenhunt

Stories by Dan

Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd’s first year in office has been a time of big ideas and some controversy.

On Wednesday, County Mayor Jim Coppinger will present his draft budget to the County Commission, and it’s likely to be down from last year’s budget of $638 million.

Politicians often say that business people are better at managing a government budget because they know how to be cost-efficient.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to pave roughly five miles of U.S. Highway 127 from the base of Signal Mountain to the top.

Less than three weeks after approving a contract with Cigna, Hamilton County commissioners said Thursday they don’t like what they are hearing about the county’s health insurance plan.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger’s office announced today that chief of staff Jeannine Alday will retire after more than 30 years in county government.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to pave roughly five miles of U.S. Highway 127 from the base of Signal Mountain to the top.

County Commissioners are already hearing complaints three weeks into the county’s switch from BlueCross BlueShield to Cigna to manage its self-funded insurance.

Hamilton County Auditor Bill McGriff knows where the money is. He’s been keeping track of county taxpayers’ funds for 36 years, before the current form of county government even existed.

Some convicted criminals in the Hamilton County Corrections program are having a tough time getting to alternative sentencing programs since the program was moved from Chattanooga to Red Bank, a former judge said Wednesday.

Hamilton County commissioners began the process of redrawing commission district lines Wednesday.

The Hamilton County Security and Corrections Committee, three General Sessions Court judges and a former City judge met this morning to discuss whether the county should provide transportation for people in alternative sentencing programs.

Property tax collections in Chattanooga are down this year, and the city’s finance director hopes to boost the amount by accepting partial payments, a strategy the Hamilton County trustee recently implemented.

After a barrage of questions about which health insurance company was giving the county a better deal, it came down to the bottom line for Hamilton County commissioners.

Hamilton County Commissioners this morning voted unanimously to change the county’s health insurance administrator from BlueCross BlueShield to Cigna, chasing the possibility of millions in savings.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office has ruled that the Hamilton County Trustee can charge cities a 1 percent commission for collecting local sales taxes, a service performed for free under a sales tax agreement that expired Monday.

An era that began 45 years ago has ended. The sales tax agreement crafted in 1966 as a way to fund jointly agencies that help both city and county residents expired today.

Men and women, including some mothers carrying cooing babies, crowded the seats Wednesday as the nine men on the Hamilton County Commission listened to Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department staffers explain the county’s family planning program.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee served notice Wednesday that it is fighting a proposal to switch the county’s insurance contract to Cigna.

Hamilton County commissioners delayed a vote today to switch the county's insurance administrator from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to Cigna.

Hamilton County commissioners this morning unanimously agreed to fund a Family Planning program at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department after health department officials gave a lengthy presentation assuring commissioners the money was not used to fund abortions.

Hamilton County commissioners today will consider whether to approve funds for a family planning program at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, but it is uncertain they will bend to public outcry about the issue.

A rally in support of funding for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department’s Family Planning program will go on Wednesday as planned, despite reports that county commissioners intend to restore funding.

Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry said Friday that the County Commission needs to take a harder look at Sheriff Jim Hammond’s budget request, which included a $1.3 million increase.

Chattanooga leaders held a discussion Friday about cuts to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, but officials with the entity constitutionally responsible for funding it, the county, weren’t in the room.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield’s meeting on budgets cuts to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is under way, but so far the discussion has focused on the Homeless Health Care Center.

Hamilton County commissioners said Thursday they like saving money as much as the next elected body, but sounded wary of a proposal to save $1 million a year by switching insurance carriers.

Hamilton County commissioners on Thursday heard from Department of Education officials that they still are trying to figure out how to close a $14 million budget shortfall.

Hamilton County commissioners just finished a budget hearing with Hamilton County Department of Education officials, who told the county they still are trying to figure out how to close $14.3 million budget deficit.

Hamilton County Commissioners this morning discussed a proposal to switch insurance plans from BlueCross BlueShield to Cigna, but commissioners told representatives of the company they were wary of the idea.

Most Hamilton County commissioners said Wednesday they hope the school board’s next choice for superintendent is someone from Hamilton County.

Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry said Tuesday that commissioners next week will begin redrawing the boundaries of the commission’s nine districts using the latest census figures.

In a year when the county faces a $10.5 million loss from the end of a sales tax agreement with Chattanooga, Hamilton County commissioners had tough questions for some agencies during the second day of budget hearings.

Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullander today sent a letter to the state attorney general asking the correct amount he should charge cities in Hamilton County for collecting their sales taxes once prior the revenue-sharing agreement ends.

Hamilton County Board of Education members and Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales have reached a tentative buyout agreement to end Scales' five-year tenure at the helm of the local school system, officials announced this afternoon.

Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Administrator Larry Zehnder today said after his budget presentation to the Hamilton County Commission that the county should consider redirecting money it receives from hotel-motel taxes to fund the Tennessee Riverpark.

Hamilton County Commissioners this morning grilled the Humane Educational Society animal shelter, an outside agency requesting $407,113 in funding.

Hamilton County Commissioners began day two of their annual budget hearings this morning, listening to the requests of a blend of outside agencies and other government entities.

Hamilton County soon will start charging the city of Chattanooga a fee for collecting the city’s sales taxes, County Trustee Bill Hullander said Monday.

County Commissioner Fred Skillern on Monday wanted to know what’s the point of approving a budget if county officials ignore it.

The City of Chattanooga will have to pay the county for collecting its sales taxes, Trustee Bill Hullander said today.

During budget hearings this morning, Commissioner Fred Skillern asked if attorney Rheubin Taylor will give the commission an opinion about whether offices can hire more people and give raises after the budget is approved.

The Hamilton County Commission started its budget hearings this morning with constitutional offices, including the County Clerk, the Sheriff and the Sessions and Criminal Court judges.

Hamilton County’s nine commissioners are asking for $100,000 each in taxpayer-funded discretionary money in next year’s budget even as the county’s schools and health department face millions in cuts.

A pedicab owner who recently asked the Chattanooga City Council about pedaling his cabs on the Walnut Street or Market Street bridges got an answer Tuesday.

With funding for family planning services at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department up in the air, the agency’s budget request shows that it also plans to cut back HIV/AIDS programs.

As news spread Thursday about the Hamilton County Commission nearly removing all funding from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department’s family planning program, a local advocacy group set a date for a showdown. Commission Chairman Larry Henry said the commission will discuss the issue on May 18.

Thousands of women who get their birth control at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department soon may find themselves with little or no access to the services if county commissioners cut off funding.

Hamilton County commissioners this morning confirmed Leslie Longshore, an employee in the Hamilton County district attorney’s office, as the county’s new human resources director.

Hamilton County commissioners have postponed a vote on funding a program that provides emergency contraception to women, after initially turning down the resolution for a Family Planning Services program at the health department.

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