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.
jjmez and LibDem... Let's look at the voting record of Pam Ladd since taking office in 2009:
There are many more areas I could cite as why I'm encouraging people to vote for Ken. Our community needs someone that views government differently than how Pam Ladd has voted during the past four years. We need a strong voice at City Hall that understands the challenges we face every day and wants to be a strong advocate for what serves the best interests of the taxpayers, small businesses and local neighborhoods.
This is Ken Smith!
And, this is why the Chattanooga Firefighters, International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the Fraternal Order of Police and several other organizations have chosen to endorse Ken Smith over Pam Ladd.
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.
I look forward to reading your editorial, but District 3 needs new representation.
What Pam Ladd says on the campaign trail and in various public meetings DOES NOT align with her voting record and DOES NOT reflect how this community views government -- smaller, more transparent and held accountable to the taxpayers.
Since taking office nearly four years, we have seen Pam vote to increase our property taxes and city fees, approve a special tax incentive for developers on Aetna Mountain, and silence taxpayer concerns about government waste and abuse. She also voted to use tax dollars to fund public art, River City and many other pet projects while the budgets for our Fire and Police Departments and Public Works go underfunded.
Yes, we need an open, more transparent and smaller city government, but unfortunately, this is not what we have seen from Pam Ladd.
As a Hixson resident, the whole process for the development concerns me. Our elected leader on the City Council has previously made positive comments about the developer and continues to say she wants to hear more the developer before voting on the issue. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear her say anything that would advocate on behalf of those she was elected to represent – the residents! This is strange seeing how she is now running a re-election campaign that promises to be a voice for the local neighborhood associations.
I cannot attest to what CBL is or is not doing in this debate, but I can attest to what Hixson residents think about this project and its viability. As someone who drives this area almost every day, it's pretty clear that the Chattanooga Village development will only add to the stormwater runoff and traffic issues that already plaque this area. Just look at how the recent rainstorms have flooded the proposed site, which happens all of the time when our area gets a prolonged period of rain. This is a FACT... not something that is being created by a PR firm to derail this project.
I do agree with your comment about the rights of the property owner. The property owner has the right to do what he wants with the property as long as he following the current zoning restrictions. But, that is not the issue being discussed here. If the developer was building residential homes, I don't think the surrounding areas would be opposed as they are with the Chattanooga Village project. If the landowner wants to build something different, then he must go through the rezoning process just like anyone else.
I'm not opposed to this area being developed, but I do oppose a process where a zoning change is rammed through the approval process (which the Mayor did in this case) while ignoring the key concerns and issues raised by local residents. From day one, the developer has mishandled this process and taken steps that only raise more questions rather than provide answers with any substance.
For example, we keep hearing that the developer has incorporated changes to the Chattanooga Village plan to address resident's concerns, but I have yet to see how they will address the stormwater and traffic issues once this project is built. All I keep hearing from the developer and our city leaders is how the city will not allow the project to open until these issues are addressed.
Can you tell me the last time you have actually trusted city government to upholds its commitments?
Well said Drew! How many times have we heard our government leaders say consolidating government will help streamline its services and make it more effective. Yet, after all is said and done, our government has grown in size and continues to be ineffective and waste taxpayer funds.
This is nothing but a smokescreen for Mayor Littlefield's true intention to condemn and takeover TN American Water. Then, the city will subsidize the costs to fix the sewer system with funds from the water utility.
You tout the benefits of city ownership, yet the city cannot even operate the waste water system without dumping raw sewage in our streets and in the Tennessee River every time we have a heavy rainstorm.
As for rates, my water bill is around $25-30 every month and a lot cheaper than my sewer bill, which comes from the city.
Where is your outcry about the city raising my sewer rates 2X every year for the same amount or more than what was just given to TN American Water? Despite these increases, the city has not managing the sewer system properly or made the necessary infrastructure improvement to prevent a correction action by the EPA despite.
Again... where is your outcry?
As for lavish pay.... you need to look no further than City Hall to find people being paid lavish salaries!!!
I'm not sure what you mean by favoring a bigger budget to cure what ails the city, but the city gaining control of the water system will not solve anything for the city or its residents.
The fact is, today, our tax dollars cannot fund our essential services, such as fire, police and roads. Why should we support the city spending millions upon millions of our tax dollars to forcibly take something that is privately owned?
Plus, the water is already owned and controlled by the public... Tennessee American Water owns the treatment plant and pipes that treat and deliver water to our homes or businesses. These assets are what we pay for in our water bills.
The EPA and state actively monitor and control what TN American Water can and cannot do with its water system and the water pulled from the Tennessee River.
I pose the same question to you.... who is watching the city? The answer... No one! This is why we have a sewer system that is broken and has a history of dumping raw sewage in the Tennessee River and our streets when it rains.
As I said earlier, the city needs to focus on providing essential services to its residents and leave the water business to Tennessee American Water.
You only have to look as far as the city's wastewater system to see why I - and many others in this city - would strongly oppose any effort by the city to takeover over Tennessee American Water.
The Chattanooga sewer system remains in shambles and currently sits under a $250 million order with the EPA that mandates the city raise rates to fix the sewer system after years of neglect.
Has anyone even noticed how the city has raised our sewer rates about 7-10% a year for the last 10 years? Where is the discussion about the city's plan to increase sewer rates by 10-12% each year for the next 17 years? Yet, our sewer system continues to dump raw sewage in our streets and the Tennessee River.
It's funny how no one even seems to know where this money is going, or what they city is doing to address this issue.
All we hear from Mayor Littlefield and other city leaders is a reference about the importance of controlling our water rights or a complaint about a water rate increase every two years - which somewhat ironic when the city has increased my sewer rates just as much or more every year.
My last water bill was under $30 per month, which is far less than what I'm paying for electricity, cable, cell phone and yes, my sewer service!
The taxpayers of this city need to bring some fiscal sanity to City Hall... our city has mounting debt... raising crime... a gang issue... crumbling roads... not enough money in the budget to pay our first responders a decent salary or let them take their cars home without paying a fee... these are just some of the reasons why we should stop this idea now before it gets any traction.
April 2013 cannot get here fast enough!
VIRGINIA CARR... you need to read your Hixson Utility bill closely before writing a Letter to the Editor with inaccurate information.
First, as a Hixson resident, our water bill is a bi-monthly bill so you need to consider this when comparing what you pay versus other areas.
Second, Tennessee American Water DOES NOT provide our sewer service. This service is actually provided by the city of Chattanooga so you should talk to Pam Ladd about your concerns regarding rising sewer costs. In fact, we are about to see significant increases in our sewer bill as the city starts addressing the serious issues that the EPA has identified in the city's sewer system.
Third, Tennessee American Water has nothing to do with the "sewer cleanup" fee as well. This monthly $8 fee is something the WWTA is charging all sewer customers in Hamilton County in order to fund the replacement of our sewer service line, which is a pipe that goes from the sewer connection on the street to our house. If you have an issue with this charge, you should contact Mitch McClure since he is our County Commissioner and has oversight of the WWTA.
Last, while we do not have Tennessee American Water as our water service provider, I do know the company is regulated by the state and cannot change their rates without going through a thorough, extensive review process that includes public hearings. We cannot say the same when it comes to the city of Chattanooga or the WWTA raising their rates.
We do agree on one thing... we should not pass the buck again on our addressing these issues. Passing the buck and not addressing the serious issues our community has with its sewer and stromwater systems is what got us into the situation we are facing now... a situation where the EPA is controlling the process and mandating improvements/changes to the system.
Unfortunately, we -- the taxpayers -- are the ones who will be paying the bill for making these needed sewer/stormwater improvements for years to come.