Chattanooga residents had the opportunity to voice their opinions about the proposed Chattanooga budget during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
As part of the budgeting process, City Council had a public hearing to give citizens the opportunity to formally make officials aware of their concern.
During the hearing, two main topics were discussed—water quality fee increases and the Walnut Street Bridge lighting project.
Following the public hearing, city council members voted to keep the 2017-2018 city budget active until July 5 to allow more time for discussion on the new proposed budget.
An original ordinance drafted last week would have kept this year’s budget alive until July 15, but District 2 City Councilman Jerry Mitchell proposed an amendment that shortened that time.
Discussions about pushing back a vote arose last week during one of the budget education sessions.
Water quality fees
The proposed 2018-2019 fiscal year city budget suggests increasing water quality management fees by nearly 10 percent each year for the next five years.
A few residents came to council to explain why they thought the tax increase was a bad idea.
“If this keeps going like it’s going, I don’t think of it as our poor people having trouble with it — which they are — we’re all going to have trouble paying the bill,” resident Jerry Jones said during the hearing.
A public hearing over the water quality rate study and fee schedule will occur during the June 19 city council meeting at 6 p.m. before regular agenda items.
Walnut Street Bridge lighting project
While the Walnut Street Bridge lighting project was removed from the city’s budget earlier Tuesday, several citizens still wanted to express their disapproval and concern over the project.
A few residents described the proposed project as a “razzle-dazzle design” or like adding “peacock feathers” in a show of their concern that the spending was frivolous or might bother residents who live nearby.
Others felt that the lighting project would take away from the historical significance of the bridge with direct references to Ed Johnson, a black man who was lynched on the bridge in 1906.
“Make sure it’s appropriate and acceptable,” resident Rick Carpenter said during the meeting. “After all that [bridge] has a history that’s really not something to be proud of.”
One resident did speak in support of the bridge as long as it could be used to give other citizens jobs.
Other citizens requested more money be put into youth and family development centers or suggested taxing citizens who use city bike lanes.
Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She is a graduate of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in political science. Alina has over three years of journalism experience including time spent with CNN and 2nd & Church, a magazine based in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Alina at [email protected] or on Twitter @alinahuntergrah.