published Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Chattanooga city councilwomen disagree on budget talks timing

by Cliff Hightower
Council member Carol Berz attends a meeting of the Chattanooga City Council in this file photo.
Council member Carol Berz attends a meeting of the Chattanooga City Council in this file photo.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd doesn't want her colleagues on the council to spend a lot of time on next year's budget before a new mayor and council are in place.

"I don't want us to do too much work that has to repeated," she said.

The City Council will start budget talks Feb. 5, a month before city voters will elect a new mayor and some new council members.

Councilwoman Carol Berz, the chairwoman of the Budget and Finance Committee, disagrees.

The initial budget meetings will focus on hearing about city-supported agencies. She said no decisions would be made and candidates are more than welcome to attend those meetings.

"They're not hearings. They're just educating us," she said.

The sessions should have everyone "fully educated" about the budget by April, Berz said.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said he would continue to prepare a draft of a 2014 fiscal year budget to give to his successor.

"I would expect the new mayor to change the budget," he said.

The new mayor will be sworn in April 5.

The council will be given the budget in May. A new budget must be approved by June 30.

Littlefield said the city plans to offer workshops to all mayoral candidates soon to allow them to meet department heads and ask questions.

The most important department?

"Finance will be the most key," Littlefield said.

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