published Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

City of Chattanooga eyes cleanwater authority funding


by Cliff Hightower

Mayor Ron Littlefield is proposing to spend $100,000 to help set up the new Moccasin Bend Cleanwater Authority established last week.

But one council member said she is unaware of the proposed expenditure and wants more information.

"That's why we need more questions," said Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd.

Littlefield said Monday the money is needed to help the city address the $206 million consent order that federal and state authorities handed down in 2012. He said a citizens group was formed and chose the consulting firm that would put the authority together.

The group selected Colorado-based MWH Americas Inc. According to its Web site, the company specializes in wet infrastructure and water engineering.

The City Council is expected to discuss and vote on the proposed contract today.

Littlefield said the company will set up the bylaws and procedures for the cleanwater authority. He said the $100,000 to be paid to the company would not come out of "taxpayer money."

"This will come out of the water and sewer funds," he said.

He said he will also nominate five board members who will serve until June 30. After June 30, the new mayor will have a chance to appoint or reappoint members.

The authority is not expected to be fully functional by the time he leaves office in April, Littlefield said.

"It's going to lop over to the next administration," he said. "No doubt about that."

Councilman Jack Benson said he wants to hear more on how the $100,000 would be spent. But if it can be justified, he would vote for it.

"It's such a big endeavor and it's going to cost us to do it right," he said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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