published Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

As revenue rises, City of Chattanooga boosts pay

by Cliff Hightower
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  • photo
    Daisy Madison, CFO for the city of Chattanooga
    Contributed Photo from City of Chattanooga

  • $201 million: Chattanooga’s 2011-2012 budget

  • $10.3 million: Revenue from expiration of the sales-tax agreement

  • $4.9 million: Other revenue increases

Source: Chattanooga

Growth in several kinds of revenue led to Chattanooga’s boosting city workers’ pay this year even as other Tennessee cities laid off employees.

“We’re getting enough from a variety of sources,” said Councilwoman Carol Berz, chairwoman of the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee.

A review of the city’s 2011-12 budget shows revenue increased by $15.2 million this year. The fiscal year began Friday.

Most of that — about $10 million — comes from the expiration of a sales tax agreement with Hamilton County. But Berz said that money is earmarked strictly for quasi-governmental and social service agencies.

“It’s strictly in and out,” she said. “You can’t count that for anything.”

About $5 million more comes from increases in property tax revenue, more money from EPB and growth in sales tax collections.

The budget provides $2.8 million for employee pay increases. It also has a $1.2 million fix for a firefighter pay anomaly, $620,000 for a police career ladder and $1 million to fix pay anomalies for nonsworn employees — generally, civilians who handle administrative duties and have not gone through the fire or police academy.

Other portions of the budget also had increases, like $1 million added to the city’s paving program.

Daisy Madison, the city’s chief financial officer, said she projected conservatively this year, but the growth outpaced her projections.

In the end, that led to some extra money that could be used to help compensate employees, she said.

She said the growth indicates the economy is picking up, but there’s no way to know if it will keep going into the next year.

Anyway, costs may go up as well, she said.

“Do I expect inflation to grow?” Madison asked. “Do I expect revenue to grow? The trick is one doesn’t outgrow the other.”

The city at least fared better than some other Tennessee municipalities. Last week, Memphis laid off 125 workers.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd expects to see growth next year.

“Chattanooga did not dip as far as many other cities,” she said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at or 423-757-6480. Follow him on Twitter at

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328Kwebsite said...

$328,000 website payout to former Mayor Kinsey. Just last week. We haven't forgotten.

You cronies are going to wear that website bartab like an albatross for the remainder of your careers. No one is ever going to forget that colossal outbreak of stupidity. It was dumb even for our own local politicos.

If it had been a toilet seat or a hammer, Mayor Littlefield and crew could have bought a truckload of 'em. We are aware that previous mayors and their toadies would be driving the truck, regardless of political task organization charts.

Now, let us address this sad ploy and attempt at budget spin.

First, we apologize to the rank and file employees who may have been embarrassed by the spending decisions of the elected and self-appointed in the Metro Payoff club. We're aware that paperclips and photocopies didn't get us in this mess.

Let us turn to the introductory pages of recent budget reports to see what could have caused a magic mountain of money to appear.

Wasn't there about a $10million "redefining" of liability in an audit within the past two years? Didn't the Littlefield administration's directives coincide with this Republican lust for debt and denial of Owner's Equity?

So, some creative accounting "created" some money; and, the City will evade taxes to the tune of another ten million.

Then, magically, they somehow claim to be five million ahead.

Which one of those magic millions is paying for these political crony payoffs? Website money to the former mayor. Ousted officials requiring contractual payouts. Self-appointed officials requiring six figure salaries. Essential service shutdowns creating additional debt and social horror.

Exactly how far ahead are we all when Mayor Littlefield's fictional millions gets spread around over the observable debt he's created?

It's obvious: they're fifteen million in debt, by their own count. That's not including petty expenses like graft, bribes and bartabs. Changing the definition of the accounting procedures to favor liability instead of equity doesn't change the value or purchasing power of the dollar in the community at large. Refusing to pay bills for necessary survival systems within the communities is not a "savings." Nothing was done to increase the overall value of the city's income or its services.

Which means, realizing that the 20 million dollar illusion the Littlefield administration has foisted upon the area is just that valuable: as the $20 Million debt that it is.

Chattanooga, by its own accounting and disclosure, is not five million ahead. It's over $20 Million behind.

Try the spin again, thanks.

July 5, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

What, pray tell, observably describes this $1.2 million "firefighter pay anomaly"? And why are we just now hearing about it?

An "anomaly" is at least one million dollars smaller.

A "massive error" is any pay problem that exceeds an individual employee's monthly salary.

When we're running government like a business, do you see businesses that go without paying employees at a rate of over one million dollars? What is that about? I know its repair did not come from parking the police cars. Please define this problem in terms that the community can understand.

Avoid fiction, and let's get that described in the kinds of dollars people use to buy food with their paychecks, not those created in the introductory exceptions pages of last year's budget.

What $1.2 million dollar problem with firefighter pay?

And if the entire fire department's pay problems cost $1.2 million dollars, does it look appropriate to spend $328,000 on a website? If we have multi-million dollar paycheck errors, it's time to switch to Facebook or Weebly or Wordpress or Twitter or something. Have our privileged been paying themselves hundreds of thousands in tax dollars when the firefighters are having to skimp on chilli?

I hope no one appointed themselves to a freshly created hundred thousand dollar a year salary for a paycheck repairman job up there.

What $1.2 million problem with firefighter pay?

July 5, 2011 at 11:56 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Did this $1.2 million dollar paycheck problem get made up for by selling off that old equipment last year? That convoy that no one reported on? With two engines and an oil truck and a government service van full of shuttled employees? We better not have to be holding a garage sale of old stuff while we're being fed this mushroom diet from the Littlefields of this world.

July 6, 2011 at 12:22 a.m.
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