published Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Chattanooga mayoral candidate Andy Berke sets priorities


by Cliff Hightower
Andy Berke is running for Chattanooga mayor.
Andy Berke is running for Chattanooga mayor.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
THREE PRIORITIES

Mayoral candidate Andy Berke announced three priorities in ensuring accountability in government:

• The administration will allow public input into goal setting for the budget;

• An employee in city government will be in charge of how each dollar spent achieves administration priorities;

• Priorities will be funded first and those that do no meet standards will be cut.

Source: Campaign for Andy Berke

Chattanooga mayoral candidate Andy Berke released a plan that he says will make city government more accountable.

His three-point plan would identify a specific employee to be in charge of evaluating how taxpayer money is spent. The plan also makes clear that administration priorities will be funded first in the budget; anything not meeting specific standards will be cut from the budget.

"This is completely new," Berke said.

That's not completely right, according to current city officials.

"We monitor all those things," said Dan Johnson, chief of staff for Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Johnson, along with city Finance Director Daisy Madison, said there are several checks and balances in place to ensure city government runs efficiently.

The chief of staff, the finance director and staff, department heads and financial analysts in each department look at needs and expenses, he said. Each quarter, city officials review spending with department heads, Madison said.

When the budget is presented, the City Council also has a say in the budget. Some spending is mandated by the City Charter.

Although some people would say there is not a lot of public input, Madison maintains city officials listen to and act on public concerns.

One example is how the city reviews calls to its 311 line to gauge public opinion about government services. The city adjusted the Department of Neighborhood Services' budget based upon complaints about overgrown yards or trash in city rights-of-ways, city officials said.

Berke did not specify whether the employee in charge of looking at what needs to be funded and what needs to be cut would be a current employee or someone hired for the job.

Mayoral candidate Robert Chester Heathington could not be reached for comment.

Mayoral candidate Guy Satterfield said he would eliminate the Education, Arts & Culture and Multicultural Affairs departments.

"My first step would be to do a complete audit of the city," he said.

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