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Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger speaks in this file photo.


In other business Wednesday, commissioners:

• Honored Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences student Chandler Custer for outstanding achievements in music and academics.

• Heard proclamations from Coppinger honoring the mothers of fallen veterans and correctional officers at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

• Voted to sell 4.5 acres of county land at Centre South Riverport/Industrial Park to the Dillard Partnership, which will lease the land to Babcock & Wilcox Industries for an expansion and relocation.

• Agreed to accept a $100,000 grant from the Governor's Highway Safety Office for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. The money will go toward DUI enforcement.


The following departments, constitutional officers and supported agencies are seeking to increase their 2015 budgets.

* County Clerk

* Assessor of Property

* Circuit Court Clerk

* Public Defender

* Sheriff

* Chattanooga African-American Museum

* Ross's Landing Plaza and Park

* Juvenile Court Judge

* Juvenile Court Clerk

* Criminal Court Clerk

* Humane Educational Society

* County Register

* District Attorney

* Election Commission

* Soil Conservation

With local primary elections safely behind them, Hamilton County officials will hold budget hearings next week.

And Mayor Jim Coppinger said hearings for the 2015 fiscal year, which starts July 1, are going to go a little differently than in years past.

Instead of having representatives from every county department, constitutional office and supported agency come before the Hamilton County Commission to ask for a slice of the tax pie, only those who want more money show up, he said.

Commission Chairman Fred Skillern said he hopes the revised process will save everyone time.

"I've talked to the mayor, and we've come to the conclusion that it's a waste of time to have departments come before us and say they aren't going to ask for additional money," Skillern said.

Commissioners are slated to hear from 15 agencies Tuesday. But Coppinger said he anticipates the hearings will take most of the day.

"I think the time will be the same amount, but I think it will be more productive. Because the people who are asking for more money will have more time to explain why they are asking," Coppinger said.

The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Department of Education officials will make their budget presentation at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, after an agenda session.

Another possible topic during budget hearings is retirement benefits for future county employees. Coppinger said Wednesday his staff is considering following the state in changing the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System. If the change is adopted, future workers would be offered a hybrid pension/401(k) retirement package instead of the present, traditional pension.

To dispel any confusion, Coppinger said Wednesday any possible change would have zero effect on current employees.

"Looking forward, we are considering -- and I emphasize considering -- looking at this for new hires," he said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at or at 423-757-6481.