published Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Hamilton County: Ramsey, commissioners oppose annexation


by Matt Wilson
Audio clip

Hamilton County Commission Regular session -- June 17, 2009

Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey and several county commissioners took a stand Wednesday against Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's plan to expand the city's boundaries.

"I'm going on record as opposing annexation," Mr. Ramsey told commissioners. "I always have opposed annexation unless a community wanted to come into a municipality."

Mr. Littlefield said what he is proposing shouldn't come as a surprise to county officials.

"We're following a plan that was negotiated between all the cities in the county and the county nearly a decade ago," he said.

Mr. Littlefield has said he wants to annex all property within the city's designated urban growth boundary, a 20-year county plan adopted in 2001. That area includes large swaths of East Brainerd, along state Highway 58 and Ooltewah and Hixson Pike.

Commissioner Larry Henry said residents in his district who live in areas that could be annexed are "dead-set opposed to this."

"They're satisfied with being in the county," he said.

Mr. Henry said his home and business were annexed into the city in 1972.

"From the standpoint of a citizen who lived in the city for 26 years, the city didn't provide one more service to me that I wasn't getting from the county with the exception of garbage service," he said.

But Mr. Littlefield argued that there are "very definite needs," especially for fire service, though he understands why folks would oppose annexation.

"No one wants to pay for it until their house catches on fire," he said.

Commission Chairman Jim Coppinger, whose district also includes areas that could be annexed, questioned whether the city will be able to provide services adequately to those areas.

"It would be nice if the city would be forthright about the amount of revenue it's going to generate for them as a result of annexation and also the cost of those services," he said.

Mr. Littlefield said officials are working on calculating those details and defining the territories to be annexed.

Commissioner John Allen Brooks, whose district mostly is within the Chattanooga city limits, said annexation might dilute services. He also said the plan is an "economic issue for the city to have more tax revenue" and that it's a bad idea to annex during a recession.

"This is poor timing," Mr. Brooks said.

Mr. Ramsey said he and Mr. Littlefield would continue to work together to consolidate governmental services.

HOW IT WORKS

* The city attorney's office must present a plan of services to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

* The planning commission votes on the plan.

* If approved, the plan will go before the City Council for two votes.

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Annexation means taxation by force- new citizens watching their property tax double, & not having any voice in the matter.

When looking for corruption in this annexation issue you simply follow the money people:

The county raises property taxes by stealth this year.

Their method: magically raising the value of everyone's home in Chattanooga & the County by 30-50% in 2009, during one of the worst recessions in America's history.

Most Chattanooga Realtors will tell you the average price of a home increased 5 percent from 2004-2007, & the downturn in the economy in 2008 essentially negated that increase, yet still everyone's appraisal value went up 30-50%- property tax gouging? I think so, & know most of you do as well.

Suddenly, Mayor Littlefield wants to annex those same areas where property appraisals went up 30-50% in the county & at the same time says "oh we haven't raised the city property tax rate" during my administration.

The city was making budget cuts just last year, can't even keep up infrastructure & services within the city & now they are going to worsen the problem by offering the same shoddy services to more people.

Hey Mountains Shadows, just wait until your pretty streets are repaved in chip seal, & look like a backwoods, redneck, gravel road. Then you will experience the full joy of being a citizen of Chattanooga just like the rest of us.

June 20, 2009 at 2:29 p.m.

In addition: What do county residents gain? Free garbage pickup that costs them another $1000-3000 in property taxes per year, while they could easily get the same garbage service from BFI for $250 a year? Dangerous chip sealed roads instead of real pavement? The city's growing violent crime problems? A police dept. & 911 center that fails to respond to some calls? A few bucks off on homeowners insurance?

As a resident of the city I can tell you it is not worth it for the additional taxes.

Littledfield is basing his annexation goals on premature VW fever & on outdated 10-20 year old studies that completely & utterly fail to take into account our nations current economic situation, & has absolutely no relevance for the current situation Hamilton County residents.

Littledfield you seem to forget you are elected to carry out the will of the people, not impose your own will on the people. The people you are annexing did not vote for you or any member of City Council, so who is representing their voice?

There should be no taxation without representation.

Hopefully the city council will have the courage, honesty, & ethics to st& up for the citizens of the county & go against you on this one Mayor Littlefiled, & do what is right for the people & not what is right for your agenda & policies.

The citizens of Chattanooga need to speak out to, we are already not getting a fraction of the services we should be for paying double the property tax of County Residents, & now they wants to spread these same shoddy services even thinner thus further diluting the quality of Chattanooga city life.

For a man named Littlefield you sure seem to want a big part of the County's field.

June 20, 2009 at 2:30 p.m.
Gardener said...

The citizens of Chattanooga should be as opposed to this annexation attempt as the County residents.

In the long run, annexation means the city will have to raise taxes on us in the city even higher in order to have enough resources to support all the new areas being annexed.

Right now the city lacks the resources to provide adequate services within the existing city limits.

Annexing new areas will only stretch city services even thinner.

Not that those services are all that great to start with.

We pay nearly double the property taxes of county residents and what do we get for it in return? The garbage and brush pickup isn't really free when you consider how much more we pay in property taxes. The sewer tax is a joke and simply a way for the city to gouge both business and residential properties on water utilities. Many residential properties are still on septic tanks, simply because the city lacks the resources to run the sewer lines out to residents and residents have to pay nearly $8000 for the so called "privilege" of being hooked up to the city sewers.

Everyone, who lives within the city, needs to contact City Council and oppose this, because if this goes through you can expect to see the city property tax rate far exceed that of the county. All that will do is further damage Chattanooga's economy because between our excessive property taxes and sales tax rate, businesses will have a hard time staying competitive with what Georgia has to offer.

Hamilton Place mall already is starting to look more and more like a ghost town because people in neighboring East Brainerd cut back on local purchases due to the recession, add a $800-2500 property tax increase on them and they have even less purchasing power spend even less locally.

I think it would be wise to wait until after the 2010 Census data is in and until after Volkswagen is up and running, and fully functional to see what, if anything, needs to change. Going through with annexation now based on a study from almost a decade ago is simply foolish.

June 23, 2009 at 1:31 p.m.
JasonMcG said...

Under Tenn. State law annexation is only legal if 1. The citizens in the region to be annexed have asked to be annexed (Simply never going to happen). 2. or the governing annexing body can prove The health, safety, and welfare of the citizens and property owners of the territory to be annexed will be materially retarded in the absence of such annexation.

This is the reason Mayor Littlefield is on TV and Radio so much lately claiming that this is annexation is for the safety of Hamilton County residents. A claim which is false. Both County Commissioners, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Dept., and all citizens in the county have said they have good police and fire protection, excellent existing county services, and have not asked for or needed additional services from the City of Chattanooga.

There's an old saying that no matter how much a lie is repeated that lie is still not true, and such is the case with this annexation.

Mayor Littlefield no matter how many times you state that this annexation is for the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens and property owners, it can be proven irrefutably that your statement is simply untrue. In reality this annexation will hinder and harm the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens and property owners with a new burdensome tax leveled upon the middle class of Hamilton county.

Equally as ludicrous, and perhaps as arrogant, on your part Mayor Littlefield is that you have made no effort to consult with the citizens you propose annexing, but have only trotted out a few buddies to give the media sound bite you want heard on the local news.

Mayor Littlefield this is taxation without representation. Give the citizens the right to choose their destiny. Most county residents made a conscious decisions to live in the county because they cannot afford the higher city tax rate on top of the country tax. All you will be doing is adding to the financial woes of hardworking people during a time of economic crisis, and putting more families out of their homes, and you should be ashamed of yourself for doing so Mayor Littlefield.

June 25, 2009 at 9:46 a.m.
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