published Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

City says let tax agreement expire

by Cliff Hightower
Audio clip

City Council meeting - 02/08/2011

Mayor Ron Littlefield said Tuesday he wanted to see the city and county sales tax agreement expire and then craft a completely new plan.

“I will not recommend we renew it,” Littlefield said.

The comments came after the City Council met Tuesday in a two-hour budget session where they talked extensively about the sales-tax agreement, which is set to expire on June 30. Records show there could be an additional $10.5 million coming into city coffers annually if the agreement expires.

Littlefield said he thinks an entirely new plan is needed to address changes in the county and city since the agreement was first made in 1965.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said he disagreed.

“My intention is to get an agreement before this one expires,” he said.

Coppinger said the county and city finance staff have met recently for a preliminary discussion. He said he doesn’t want the county and the city to “miss a beat” on the sales tax agreement.

Littlefield said he expects the city and county to be discussing the sales tax agreement “for the next year.”

Councilwoman Deborah Scott, who is leading the city’s efforts on the agreement, said she made the recommendation to the mayor on letting the agreement expire. She said there are too many differences between how taxes are received now compared to 1965.

“We need a fresh start,” she said.

Scott, along with Chief Financial Officer Daisy Madison, made presentations to the council Tuesday showing tax collections of the municipalities and the county. Scott said the council also talked briefly about educating the public on the sales tax agreement.

The city has posted a legal notice saying it is looking for a public relations firm. She said an educator or education firm also would suffice. She said the council talked about each member also going into their districts and educating their constituents.

The council also talked about term limits Tuesday during a legal and legislative committee meeting. Scott brought up the proposal of limiting council members to two terms.

The measure died from a lack of support from other council members.

Staff writer Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this story.

Web editor's note: A PowerPoint presentation on the sales tax agreement was originally attached to this story. Due to technical difficulties the file was not downloading. If you would like to receive a copy of the presentation, please e-mail We apologize for the inconvenience.

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cannonball said...

We don't need an PR firm to explain this to us. That's why we voted on council members. If they can't explain this agreement then they should resign. Don't waste my tax money.

February 9, 2011 at 6:09 a.m.
Smithbrother said...

Don't fix what is not broken, just to be doing something. I did notice how the article has no substance on the issue of why the agreement is though to be broken.

February 9, 2011 at 8:11 a.m.

He's coming for you He's out to get you Attack of the Weiner Man

Oh man, Littlefield is at it again. Watch out folks. He's the Weiner Man.

February 9, 2011 at 9:34 a.m.
My2centsworth said...

First off I would like to inform you of the broken link to the - PowerPoint: Sales tax agreement presentation -.

Secondly as I see it, this is just another desperate grab for money to continue the city's incompetence of their fiduciary responsibilities. Littlefields lack of control over spending and curbing excess has reared an ugly head time and again. His use of land grabs for political party gains and forcing people to pay city taxes for services that are already stretched beyond reasonable expectations. The lack of sufficient police and firemen to protect what they have is beyond comprehension. The people of the city of Chattanooga deserve better. Too bad they are not getting it.

USSA is one day closer.

February 9, 2011 at 10:07 a.m.
midnitewatchman said...

Another insult to Chattanoogans, maybe this administration is thinking they need to have the Muppets or Sesame Street explain how taxes work to Chattanoogans? Or could this be marketed as educating the public but in reality, it is the council that needs educated or "a professional (legal) mediator"? Berz herself said she has no idea how much it will cost, she has to wait to see the bids? I guess the lowest bid and the highest bid will create a "mean" then she can say how much it will cost? Something seems fishy?

February 9, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Thanks for sharing midnitewatchman. There would only be two reasons the city council and mayor would hire a PR firm,

1) The morons believe that the public does not read the TFP and other news sources to understand the sales tax agreement.

2) They want to hire their old buddy Waterhouse, the Recycle Racoon guy that East Ridge fired.

I recently called the City about my stormwater bill, and the city employee had the nerve to state, "public angst about the fee is behind us, like all news stories, the concerns fade and so should yours." That reflects the attitude of Littlefield and the Council, they don't what we think.

February 9, 2011 at 10:58 a.m.
Allison12 said...


February 9, 2011 at 11:06 a.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Once again Mayor Littlefield proves his incompetence. The dictator (Littlefield) listens to no one, and sets his own agenda for the city of Chattanooga rather then for the citizens.

February 9, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.
jpo3136 said...

I have little faith in the idea that Mayor Littlefield should be put in charge of renovating any tax agreements. He's made a multitude of poor decisions.

This comment client only gives us 3000 characters; we can't possibly list all of his bad decisions. We should avoid trusting him and let the agreement continue as is. We have seen no good reason to trust him or his ideas. We've seen nothing but habitual reneging from his administration. They are selfish extremists who have done a lot to hurt their own internal structure. We can't let them contaminate the entire county with their desire to ignore cost realities. Their common plan has been economic ignorance, the active ignoring of budget realities.

We need to avoid letting Mayor Littlefield overstep his boundaries as an executive branch official. Do not let him mistake himself for a legislator. It's his job to carry out the laws, not re-write them for his personal convenience. That's exactly what we'll get if we even consider letting him comment on this situation.

Renew the agreement as-is. Reject any proposal Mayor Littlefield contributes to this discussion. It's a legislative, not executive, decision.

We're not confused about the fact that his opinion is largely irrelevant in this matter. He may be, but we're not.

If Mayor Littlefield wants to refine any argument within the scope of his elected authority, he can undo some of the egregiously poor decisions he has made. These would include, but not be limited to: Police patrol car parking lot fiasco, the outsourcing any and all services not approved by a vote in a general ballot measure, and unnecessary publicly voiced personal attacks on staff and other subordinate government officials (city judges, Missy Crutchfield's staff, individual officers and other city employees).

There are many, many more things that Mayor Littlefield can spend his time on besides trying to re-write laws to help himself. Almost all of them include mayoral duties which involve service to the community through executing existing laws and protecting city resources like the welfare of personnel.

We're willing to accept his resignation at any time. He can always leave the executive branch to run for legislative office if he's under the illusion that we approve of his sad budgeting abilities as demonstrated thus far. In which case, we, of course, predict a landslide for the other guy.

February 9, 2011 at 11:51 a.m.
patrickd said...


There seems to be a problem with the document not linking off the page. If you would like to receive a copy please send an e-mail to

We apologize for the inconvenience.

February 9, 2011 at 12:31 p.m.
Allison12 said...

No apologies TFP, we have developed an attached applicable to the story.

February 9, 2011 at 12:53 p.m.
joeguy44 said...

Obviously the city is going to generate more sales tax, that is where the bulk of the taxable industry resides. How many tourist come to Chattanooga and stay in a hotel up in Soddy Daisy? How many folks out in the middle valley area go to the non-city shopping malls? Utterly ridiculous logic, or the lack there of, by the city's mayor to suggest that the city has no obligation to the very people that spend their money and earn their paycheck within the city limits. Speaking as a person who knows many fine employees in the health department, I can assure you that the city's citizens take full advantage of the services provided to them. It would be interesting to know just what the numbers are of city based citizens using the services versus the county. My guess is the city is the biggest resource user based simple on the fact that there is a larger population within the city than the unincorporated areas, and that the majority of the resource centers — like the health department and Erlanger — reside within the city’s liimits. Just those two ideas would seem to support the idea that the city has an obligation to pay its fair share. What happens when the services go away, does the city then just ignore the needs of the people, do they implement their own service? When the burden of cost gets to high does the city just annex another part of the county’s affluent areas and unincorporated the poverty areas? Does the mayor truly believe that District 7, 8, and 9 are not using the Health Department’s resources? Or somehow that it is a proportional use to some area out in the sticks? How much sales tax is generated in those areas versus that contributed by people shopping and eating in the tourist area? How much revenue in sales tax is brought in when folks like me who live 100 yards from the city limits goes downtown to an event or just down the street and spend 300 bucks a weekend at Lowes? Your city uses the system, so support it.

April 1, 2011 at 8:11 p.m.
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