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Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger speaks during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Thursday, June 20, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Coppinger and Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson spoke about the county's school budget at the meeting.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, with more information.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger says a schools facility report will be discussed at a joint meeting with the school board later this month.

The announcement comes just a week after the Hamilton County Commission shot down the proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget on a 5-4 vote because of a lack of support for the included 34-cent property tax rate increase.

The meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. on July 23 at the McDaniel building, located at 455 N. Highland Park Ave., Chattanooga.

"It's going to be quite a comprehensive discussion," he said during Wednesday's commission meeting, warning commissioners to "block off about half a day."

The report, an outstanding variable that many opponents of the tax cited in their trepidation, is the first external audit of Hamilton County Schools facilities since the 1990s.

"A key thing for me is the facilities assessment plan," Chairwoman and District 7 Commissioner Sabrena Smedley said in June. "When I go to my citizens and my community and those who elected me and have entrusted me to cast a vote for them, I need to have a course of action to take to them and say 'Look, here's the problem we're facing,' and 'We have to deal with them and here's the plan going forward. We don't have that, and to tell you the truth, because of that missing information, I really don't think we have a true idea of what the real need is yet."

Despite opposition from members who considered the report wasteful, the school board approved the $500,000 assessment in December.

"It will be an opportunity to look even out to the future because everybody expects this report to make some — I'll just stay interesting — recommendations," Coppinger said. "There are going to be a lot of hard choices to make in the future as it relates to schools and to buildings. And, again, it's the responsibility of this government to figure out how we're going to help fund this moving forward."

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgtaylor.

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