published Friday, July 27th, 2012

Coppinger vs. Wilson

In the election for Hamilton County mayor, the political dynamic is skewed. Countywide voting trends favor Republicans, giving Jim Coppinger, who has held the seat on an interim appointment for nearly two years, a significant advantage. Yet his chief opponent, Dr. Rick Wilson, a veteran UTC political science professor, offers the best agenda. If voters in Chattanooga and the surrounding municipalities pick up on his ideas, they could turn the election in his favor.

Coppinger, who is seeking voter approval to finish the term he assumed when former County Mayor Claude Ramsey stepped down, has kept a low, cautious, conservative profile. He refused to offer an overdue tax increase last year; instead, he slashed employees' jobs and funding for vital social service agencies.

He's also rejected Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's efforts to expand the city's growth boundaries, and to begin consolidating core urban services — parks and recreation, public works (street maintenance and garbage collection), police and fire departments, and sewer systems — in order to reduce duplication, save taxpayer money and improve tax equity for municipal taxpayers in Chattanooga and the nine surrounding municipalities.

Coppinger's leadership skills, however, remain untested and unproven as a consequence of his unwillingness to engage such major issues. His resistance is hard to fathom. Consolidation of the city's and county's ambulance and 911 services have worked well, saved money and better served taxpayers countywide. Moreover, the incremental consolidation of basic urban services doesn't entail pursuit of metropolitan government. It might require county government to obtain a county charter, but so what. That's already needed to establish municipal-style ordinances as unincorporated areas of the county grow in density.

Wilson is a strong advocate of gradual, reasonable consolidation of core urban services. He correctly sees useful long-term improvements in operating efficiencies and tax equity for both the 170,000 residents of Chattanooga, or fully half of the county's population, and for the approximately 40,000 residents of the nine municipalities that surround Chattanooga.

The roughly three-quarters of the county population in the 10 municipalities pay twice for some essential services: first, they pay through their municipal property taxes for such services; then they pay again, through their countywide property taxes, to support the fire and police services that county government provides only in unincorporated areas of the county. So municipal residents are shafted by double taxation, while residents of unincorporated areas get a sweetheart deal: subsidies from municipal taxpayers that reduce the actual cost of their services in unincorporated areas.

It gets worse. The county's 10 municipalities have most of the county's commercial base — which contributes a huge portion of the county property tax base. They also provide most of the shopping, jobs, amenities and heavy-duty streets, and the maintenance cost for all this through their municipal tax base. That greatly expands their benefits to residents of unincorporated areas, and further diminishes the latter's share for the cost of these benefits

If Wilson could get his message out about the cost efficiency and tax equity of consolidated core services, voters in the county's 10 municipalities would surely see their benefit in supporting his incremental roll-out of consolidated urban services. Wilson further pledges that no municipality or unincorporated area would begin paying for a consolidated service until they begin receiving those benefits. So tax equity would work both ways.

Wilson's problem is the difficulty of communicating how his streamlined delivery of urban services would work, and how three-quarters of the county's taxpayers would benefit in lower taxes. Wilson is swimming upstream as a political challenger trying to persuade county voters in an campaign he's running on his own dime. And Coppinger is hanging back in pretty safe perch advocating doing nothing more than the status quo.

In this election, partisan juices and political strength favor Coppinger. Common-sense favors Wilson's more constructive agenda.

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joneses said...

So it is my interpretation Wilson will raise taxes and County Mayor Coppinger will not. This is a no brainer. VOTE COPPINGER!

July 27, 2012 at 8:09 a.m.
Downtownman said...

if that's all you got from the editorial, joneses, you have proven once again you have no reading comprehension skills.

July 27, 2012 at 12:55 p.m.
joneses said...

I would never support a dummycrat as the only solution they have is to spend more money than they take in and then blame the Republicans for not taxing people enough. Wilson has no solutions. He is forgetting that to go metro the citizens have to vote on it and that has and never will happen. so like all dummycrats he will raise taxes as he is just another liberal who is jealous of successful people.

July 28, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.
lightkeeper said...

Are some of you that post on here really that negative with out of control conservative thinking or are you just kidding. If you're really serious, it looks as if this is one metro area that will remain behind other metro areas for generations to come. Who wouldn't want the best for their community no matter what political party they cater to ? Why would you want out of control traffic congestion, inferior schools, inferior infrastructure prohibiting building and job growth, high taxes due to duplication of services and miss out on billions of dollars in growth due to poor future planning that would help everyone and make the entire area a much better place to live ? Some of you people are unbelievable. It is a real tragedy to live in such a beautiful area with such ugly negative people, you need prayer more than you could ever know.

July 28, 2012 at 6:51 p.m.
lightkeeper said...

@JonRoss..... I give facts that make more sense than anything you have ever posted on here...you are a complete hillbilly idiot

July 28, 2012 at 7:04 p.m.
lightkeeper said...
<p>@JohnRoss...you sound like a paranoid mental patient...I worked at a mental facility and it sound as if you need some serious therapy. You know nothing about living in a metro area, you probably don't even live in Hamilton County with the stupid bull you're coming up with.

July 28, 2012 at 7:10 p.m.
lightkeeper said...
<p>@JohnRoss...my previous post still stands, We need leaders and positive thinkers to move this metro area forward, not immature idiots such as yourself. With the responses your making you couldn't be any older than twelve.

July 28, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.
lightkeeper said...
<p>@JohnRoss....I take the twelve back....Iam banking your about three

July 28, 2012 at 7:36 p.m.
lightkeeper said...
<p>@JonRoss....Rather Democrat or Republican, Whoever is Mayor should be brave enough to push this metro county forward. The decisions we make today will either help or hurt our children and grandchildren for generations to come. All this whinning about Obama has nothin to do with the article. Our future is much too important for such trivial childish posts

July 28, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.

lightkeeper, sometimes I really do think JonRoss must be a false-flag operation by the Obama campaign to make the Right-wing look bad.

July 28, 2012 at 8:24 p.m.
lightkeeper said...
<p>@JonRoss....Political party has nothing to do with it...you just don't get it. I could say anyone that voted for Bush is not worthy to hold office, thats the reason were in this mess, Obama is not cleaning his f#&kup fast enough for you and you want someone in office to stick it to you again? But like I said its future progress thats at stake.

July 28, 2012 at 8:35 p.m.
marti said...

I along with many others was laid off from Hamilton County by Jim Coppinger and he did not follow the rules and regulations where it states you must transfer people to vacancies. There were more than enough vacancies for him to transfer people. I sat down to interview the current mayor. I must say, he really didn't have any good answers or explanation. I even shared with him suggestions on what other counties were doing in times of crisis, Coppinger didn't give a care. I asked him why is it that so many making over $100,000.00 a year salary have a take home car in this recession. The little guy making under $50,000 are the ones doing the brunt of the work. Those who make over 100,000.00 could rent a car and write it off on thier taxes. He basically said, he was not going to take any cars away from anyone and he didn't. I also interviewed Dr. Rick Wilson. I must say, I am pro-life, and will always be, but this election. isn't about that. Its about our county, our taxes. It doesn't matter if a candidate is democrat or republican, or if you like obama or not. It matters most that they know what they are doing, follow the rules and regulations and care about its people monies. After interviewing both, Dr. Rick Wilson is the very best candidate. He HAS a college education. He reduced his salary when he worked for the Hamilton county Election several years ago, because he CARES about our tax dollars. Coppinger on the other hand, gave himself a raise after laying people off. Wasn't it enough to collect a pension from the City plus a county salary? That speaks for itself of what kind of person coppinger is. It reaffirms that Dr. Wilson is the most qualified and best Candidate for Mayor. His plan does not include any tax increase. Check out his facebook.

July 30, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.
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