Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 10/27/14. Walnut Commons in downtown Chattanooga.

City bond board OKs tax break amendment

A city bond board that facilitates tax breaks for downtown housing projects agreed Wednesday to a loan modification amendment sought by Wells Fargo Bank for the sale of Walnut Commons apartment complex property in downtown Chattanooga.

By a 3-1 vote, the Health, Education and Housing Facilities Board approved another rider to a security agreement for the downtown apartment complex, which was originally built on city property and exempted from any property taxes. The agreement adopted by the city will extend the tax breaks until 2025 even though a taxpayer-advocacy group urged the panel not to make the change without requiring the new owners to rent at least some of the apartments at affordable rates for low and moderate-income persons.

HEB board member Lloyd Longnion wanted the board to require the owners to at least make a good faith effort to lease vacant units at the "affordable" rate of no more than $858 a month. But the other board members declined his suggestion.

"Are city and county taxpayers being used as a bargaining chip in what is essentially a financial transaction in order for Walnut Commons LLC to keep its tax break until 2025?" asked Helen Burns Sharp, founder of the Accountability for Taxpayer Money. "We had hoped that the city would quit subsidizing this market-rate apartment complex and make it possible for future tax money to go where it is needed, such as to schools, public safety, neighborhoods and streets."

Easter Bunny arrives Saturday at mall

Spring has sprung, and the Easter Bunny is headed to Hamilton Place mall.

Beginning on Saturday, Chattanooga's biggest mall will feature the Easter Bunny for photos at his spring home near the Belk Women and Children's Store.

All families who visit the Easter Bunny will receive an Easter Bunny coloring sheet. Visitors to the Easter Bunny at Hamilton Place also will receive a $20 Shutterfly gift card with any of the five photo packages available.

CWLI hosts workshops to boost board diversity

The Chattanooga Women's Leadership Institute (CWLI) will host two financial workshop series this spring as part of its Women Know Finance programming.

The first, titled Women Know Finance: Finance in the Boardroom, is a six-session series focused on increasing the financial skills of women serving on boards of directors and begins April 5. The second, a three-part series titled Women Know Finance: Financial Empowerment 101, teaches the basics of personal finance and begins April 20.

Registration is open now to CWLI members and non-members at

Labor nominee says hiring won't be political

President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Labor Department says he won't allow potential political pressure from the administration to influence his hiring decisions.

Alexander Acosta told a Senate committee he regrets that political tests played a role in employment practices used by a subordinate when Acosta headed the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush.

YouTube loses advertisers who are upset with videos

AT&T, Verizon and several other major advertisers are suspending their marketing campaigns on Google's YouTube site after discovering their brands have been appearing alongside videos promoting terrorism and other unsavory subjects. The spreading boycott confronts Google with a challenge that threatens to cost it hundreds of millions of dollars.