Chattanooga Councilwoman Marvene Noel takes oath of office

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Judge Sherry Paty administers the oath of office to City Councilwoman Marvene Noel, left, at the start of the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.

After winning election to the seat in a runoff Thursday, Councilwoman Marvene Noel of Orchard Knob was sworn in Tuesday as the District 8 representative on the Chattanooga City Council.

Members of Noel's family joined her at the front of the council chambers as she took the oath of office. She thanked residents for supporting her on election day.

"I will continue to work very hard," she said. "I will continue to use my experience, knowledge and common sense to effectively represent all of you. I look forward to working with all my council family, Mayor (Tim) Kelly, other city officials and developers to make District 8 one of the best places to work, live and play. I consider this an honor and privilege."

Noel defeated activist Marie Mott by a margin of 70 votes Thursday. Seven hundred thirty-one voters participated in the race, approximately 8.8% of the 8,295 eligible voters in the district.

Mott was originally the top vote-getter in an Aug. 4 contest for the seat, securing 46.7% of the ballot compared to Noel's 28.7%, but the election went to a runoff because none of the candidates received more than 50% of the vote. The City Council approved that rule change for the special election in February.

Noel was initially appointed to the seat in March after former Councilman Anthony Byrd resigned to accept a position as City Court clerk. She is past president of the Orchard Knob Neighborhood Association and serves on Parkridge Health System's board of trustees.

Kelly endorsed Noel during the runoff election. Mott has claimed the mayor's office exerted undue influence in the race.

"Mayor Kelly properly and routinely exercised his rights provided by federal law to express his opinions on political issues and candidates," Chattanooga City Attorney Emily O'Donnell said in a statement. "As with many other elected officials who have endorsed political candidates, no part of Mayor Kelly's endorsement violated state or federal law, including the Little Hatch Act or the federal Hatch Act."

Budget amendment

A budget amendment that would increase funding for the Chattanooga Police Department by $924,019 and boost pay for grant-funded employees in the city's Office of Family Empowerment will have its first vote in front of the council Sept. 27.

The council held a public hearing for the budget amendment during its regular meeting Tuesday, which attracted a couple of comments and earned praise from an employee in the Office of Family Empowerment.

Program Coordinator Kent Dickson was among three employees in the office who addressed the council in June to raise concerns about their compensation, stating at the time it wasn't enough to afford the basic cost of living.

"It was a huge morale boost for our staff to receive news that this was being taken seriously and was going to be worked on," Dickson told council members on Tuesday. "Many of them stuck with us when they thought they weren't going to be able to see if this would come through. The fact that it has means we can retain passionate employees who are skillful, who are experienced, who love what they do and to serve this community."

City Chief Financial Officer Brent Goldberg told the council last week the director and assistant director positions will move to the general fund, freeing up $203,447 of grant funding. A little more than $100,000 would be used to increase salaries for staff. It would also free up money for programming.

According to the city, the average pay increase for 11 employees in the office, including the director and assistant director, will be 19%. As of August, hourly staff in the Office of Family Empowerment started at $15, and other employees earned between $35,000 and $45,000.

Chattanooga implemented a 3% cost-of-living adjustment for city staff in its fiscal year 2023 budget, building on a $30 million investment in employee pay the city made the year prior. Historically, the city has never supplemented its grant-funded positions with city dollars, but Kelly's administration has been evaluating compensation among those postings, which has included a pay boost for Head Start teachers.

The amendment will not result in an increase in the city's overall budget. The city is drawing on unassigned contingency funds and reassigning funding between departments.

Contact David Floyd at or at 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @flavid_doyd.