published Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The Chattanooga Times endorses Pam Ladd for District 3

In District 3, we endorse incumbent Pam Ladd who voted against Ron Littlefield's last budget but, yes, agreed to the 2010 tax increase.

Take those two votes one at a time.

"The frustration is that what we get to vote on is created from the administration. It's the mayor's budget. We can massage it, and we can say we don't like it. ... And last year I voted against the entire budget because there were too many pieces in there I just could not go along with," she told the Time Free Press editorial writers recently.

Nonetheless, it became the budget of the city. As had three before it.

In 2010, the city budgets -- complete with massages, negotiations, disputes, etc. -- landed council members in a situation where they were forced to find new revenue. That year, the city saw a tremendous decrease in sales tax revenue, all at a time when the city had to finance a new $1 million police academy and when the federal government mandated that city officials begin putting back $6 million a year in Other Post Employment Benefits. That mandate is known known as OPEB and is defined as benefits that employees will begin to receive at the start of retirement.

"I would vote for new tax only if it was absolutely necessary, and it was absolutely necessary in 2010," Ladd said. "This council worked diligently to cut the budget, and a lot of cuts we suggested [including merging the Education, Arts and Culture Department back into the Parks and Recreation Department] did not get cut."

The city's Office of Sustainability did get cut. This was something Ladd said she opposed because she saw that office as an investment that could lead to future savings.

Her opponent, Ken Smith, says he's running because he doesn't like how things are run and he wants a government more responsible to people.

"I believe we need to be focusing on funding essential services as opposed to spending taxpayer dollars on a lot of nonessential needs," he told editorial writers.

But he didn't offer specifics.

"I wouldn't target for cuts, I'd be making sure the mayor was doing his due diligence," Smith said. "My question would be why is this a necessity?"

Similarly he dodged specifics on questions of consolidating city and county services.

Ladd has specific ideas. She defends public art and culture in the city, but she thinks a private manager could better book and handle events at Memorial Auditorium and perhaps the Tivoli. She wants to be part of making sure a new water authority is formed to address stormwater and wastewater issues, and she doesn't think now is the time for the city to talk about taking control of Tennessee American Water Co.'s aging infrastructure.

She said she looks forward to working with a new mayor, and in the meantime she touts accomplishments she has been able to parlay in her district which includes the communities of Dupont, Northwoods, Murray Hills, portions of Hixson and the Highway 58 area.

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BigRidgeGOP said...

I laughed after reading your comment on how the 2010 tax increase was needed to fund a police academy (which did not happen until 2012... check the city records) and to fund the city's OPEB costs (which is not mandated by law as you say but only recommended for city and state governments).

Your editorial also says Pam worked to make cuts in the city budget, but she can offer no specific examples of where major cuts were made while asking taxpayers to cut their budgets so the City can do spend more. Then, you turn around and criticize Ken Smith for not being specific enough in what cuts he would make to fund city services. Better yet, the only minor cut the City Council made in 2010 was to the Office of Sustainability, which Pam wanted to sustain... now that makes sense. What Pam's voting record does show is a history of voting to sustain inflated budgets for non-essential services versus trying to make significant cuts so the city can better fund its essential city services or simply find enough money to restore the city's take home car policy for police officers or, better yet, give Firefighters and Police Officers the same pay raise she voted to give other city employees.

Simply put... Pam is just another tax and spend Democrat that does not represent the values of District 3. It's time for our community to elect someone that will work to make government more efficient and beneficial to the taxpayers. That day comes March 5.

February 14, 2013 at 12:34 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Mr.Hustin, never mentioned her record on Pilot and TIF tax payer robbery, the new en vogue way to rob the public. Pam Ladd has been a cataylyst or this robbery of the people, and her tax record on taxation stinks.

February 14, 2013 at 6:39 a.m.
joneses said...

The choice is simple. You can vote for Pam Ladd who takes her marching orders from the liberal minded ideology like and others outside of Chattanooga or you can vote for a proven Chattanooga business and family man like Ken Smith who can think for himself and will listen to his supporters.

February 14, 2013 at 8:18 a.m.
anhe said...

Ladd apparently takes her marching orders from good research, the prevailing opinion of educated economists from both parties and common sense which is sadly lacking in all the above comments. It takes great guts to follow the best interest of the people when silly, non-sensical attacks are aimed at anyone trying to take a moderate and responsible stance. Too many years of crazy defense/ homeland security spending and tax exemptions for the ultra- wealthy caused our problems. You can paint her judgement whatever way you want but the data proves you VERY wrong...

February 14, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.
BigRidgeGOP said...

Data you say.... please show me the data as I want to know how an increase of 19% in property taxes, a 191% increase in stormwater fees and underfunding our essential city services (like Fire and Police as well as Public Works) make common sense given how every taxpayer is struggling to pay their own bills during this recession.

How is taking more of my money so government can spend more money on public arts, various Arts/Education initiatives, funding a road to nowhere on Aetna Mountain and to replace perfectly working street lights on Highway 153 follow my best interests?

Besides, what does Homeland Security and defense spending have to do with local government? We do agree on one thing.... tax exemptions for the ultra-wealthy, which by the way Pam Ladd voted for on several occasions.

February 14, 2013 at 3:37 p.m.
RWM said...

Yes, Councilwoman Ladd voted for a 19% tax increase, rather than the 33% one the mayor had proposed. The data is in the minutes of the Council meetings which are on the City website and are public records. Her support of the fire & police departments are evident in the new firehall going in the north Hixson area and her support of the Career Ladder system, which all the Council members with the exception on Councilman Gilbert (who abstained) voted for as well. Every taxpayer gets benefits in the form of streets, garbage & recycling pickup and sewer systems. Which of these services would you prefer to do without instead of paying taxes?

February 21, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.
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