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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Council member Darrin Ledford

This story was corrected at 10:15 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2021, to remove a reference to a nonprofit organization that did not receive funding.

The Chattanooga City Council will hold a special meeting Wednesday to expedite funds for nonprofit groups and eviction prevention after deferring the vote before the holidays.

A new version of an $800,000 budget amendment proposed by the mayor's office and deferred by the council just before the holidays passed its first of two required votes on Tuesday.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga City Council OKs employee bonuses, but defers relief funding for nonprofits, small businesses)

The new version includes donations to nonprofit foundations in the city from federal coronavirus relief funds —  $1.5 million of which went to one-time city employee bonuses in December. The amendment also adds $100,000 for a contingency fund and another $60,000 for legal fees.

"Everything stayed the same, the only thing that was different is we put $100,000 in a contingency fund for COVID relief and then $60,000 for the eviction protection program," council Chairman Chip Henderson, who introduced the newest version of the amendment, said Tuesday afternoon.

"What I understand with my conversations with agencies and the administration over the holidays is that time is of the essence," Councilman Darrin Ledford said Tuesday, asking the council to move up final approval of the amendment. "Can we call for an emergency meeting tomorrow to vote on these funds to release them now instead of waiting another week?"

In response, the council called the Wednesday meeting for the second and final vote. The amendment would take effect immediately, allowing the funds to flow.

Mayor Andy Berke praised the council for its cooperation after the meeting, noting the financial hardships of many city residents and businesses throughout the pandemic.

"The pandemic is entering its most dangerous phase yet, and while we are glad that a safe and effective vaccine is being distributed locally, there is no question that the hardship facing our residents and businesses will continue for several more months at least," Berke said in a statement. "The relief package approved this evening by the Chattanooga City Council will protect jobs at our city's cultural institutions and small businesses, help keep struggling families in their homes and open a new chapter for the work of the Forgotten Child Fund. These investments matter so much right now, and we appreciate the council's collaboration and support."

In the current version of the amendment, the money is divided among the following organizations:

> $300,000 to the Southeast Tennessee Development District for small business relief

> $225,000 for the Tivoli and Memorial Foundation

> $100,000 for the city's COVID-19 relief contingency fund

> $75,000 for the Forgotten Child Fund

> $60,000 for the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga for the eviction protection program

> $40,000 for the Bessie Smith Cultural Center

The council will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday to vote on the amendment.

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

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