published Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Contentious meeting leads to talks of metro government


by Cliff Hightower

A board member for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Health Council told Mayor Ron Littlefield that talks between the city and Hamilton County over the expiring sales tax agreement are so hostile, a deal appears unlikely.

“I don’t know how you can work out anything when you’re looking like enemies,” Dr. Ronald Blankenbaker said.

Littlefield said he had talked to Hamilton County officials two years ago about the end of the sales tax agreement, which expires in May, and he had “gotten nowhere.”

With his voice rising, Littlefield pointed at Blankenbaker and said the county offered no alternatives except to ask the city to extend the agreement.

KEY POINTS

Mayor Ron Littlefield broached the following issues during a presentation to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department Monday:

  • Hamilton County should pursue its own charter;

  • County residents need to come to terms on some type of political structure to end double taxation of city residents

  • The county needs to start paying for its state-mandated services

  • The county should be able to afford fully funding the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department

  • If the county does not want to build the Homeless Health Care Center, hand it over to the city and it will

Littlefield said he is willing to sit down and talk, but the city needs a fairer shake than being “double taxed” through the sales tax agreement, a 1966 deal that stipulates how the city and county handle jointly funded agencies such as the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.

“There’s a little bit of frustration here, quite frankly,” Littlefield said.

The agreement is set to expire May 23, and the city has said it does not plan to renew it. The end of the agreement will mean about $10.5 million in sales tax revenue will return to city coffers after being given to the county for years.

Littlefield addressed the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Health Council Monday in a meeting that at times became contentious and centered on the mayor calling for the county to establish its own charter and begin talks of a city/county metropolitan government.

Littlefield then told the council that the 45-year-old sales tax agreement needs to end because it is unfair to city residents who pay double taxes for certain services such as the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library and the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency.

Contact Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CliffHightower.

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Salsa said...

No Littlefield, there is a LOT of frustration and YOU are the source of the problem.

May 3, 2011 at 5:46 p.m.
midnitewatchman said...

Again with the verbage "double taxed". These agreements were made by prior administrators so the City and County could share the responsibility in providing some essential services to make this area better for its less fortunate residents and provide services such as Library etc. All of this is being put forth as an instigator to push Metro Goverment. Nashville, Atlanta and other Cities have their outer cities and suburbs. Chattanooga is a large city bordered by Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama and I75/I24 (Major routes). It will always have employees, shoppers and through traffic from this. Most cities would be grateful to have major highways coming through their city to help provide tax dollars. The hotel/motel tax rate in Chattanooga is one of the highest in the Southeast (taking advantage of the major route traffic). Tennessee does not have a state tax where most states do. The last 5 years have been volitile at best for Chattanooga goverment. A legacy of previous leaders is being questioned and smeared. What will future leaders say of this present leadership? Have we gone forward or backwards?

May 3, 2011 at 6:46 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Here we go again, Ron Littlefield and his hair brain metro government scheme. He is the only person that keeps bringing this thing up and beating a dead horse. He is ineffective and marginalized so many people in his 2nd term. The police union, fire department, and the city employees should give this guy a vote of "No Confidence" and force the city council to reduce him to a mere figurehead as Chattanooga (and Hamilton County) waits for his term to expire. Mayor Littlefield could have done everyone a big favor and stepped aside after the recall vote, however, he chose to sue and hide behind the courts to keep his temporary job.

May 4, 2011 at midnight

Ron you need to report to the lodge because you have not paid your dues for this month.

May 5, 2011 at 2:11 p.m.
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