Discretionary Funds For Capital Improvements Only

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 7/02 6:38 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) - Hamilton county commissioners will no longer be able to spend their discretionary funds any way they like.
The commission Wednesday changed the rules to conform with state law.
Some private groups and inner city programs will be looking for funding elsewhere.

Commissioners approved a resolution that will change the way they can spend their 100-thousand discretionary fund---restricting it to public works capital projects.
That means that some of the community programs who were funded will lose funding.
That change is mandated by the Tennessee Code.
Commissioner Greg Back has been using half of his funds for a jobs program in District 5.

GREG BECK,COMMISSIONER, DIST. 5 "...the resolution is a good thing, but I also think not having any way to help inner city kids...that's going to be a bad thing. I'm not sure how to vote on this one, Mr. Chairman."

Commissioner Warren Mackey says his discretionary money has been mostly directed toward youth activities.

WARREN MACKEY, COMMISSIONER, DIST. 4 "The way this rule is coming out, we're going to fill up juvenile with even more kids...we'll read more about the shootings and those shootings are driving tourists and other investments out of this community, its short sighted ..I wish it were re-thought."

Commissioner Marty Haynes says he had used some of the fund for community programs that will have to find new sponsors.

MARTY HAYNES,COMMISSIONER DIST. 3 "Its a tough decision to go back to those organizations you've given money to in the past and say that money's not going to be available this year..and we'll have to find it somewhere else. "

Mayor Jim Coppinger acknowledged that the discretionary fund has been been a tradition for years---a tradition that no other county in Tennessee has allowed.

MAYOR JIM COPPINGER , HAMILTON CO. "I will say there is no county in the state of Tennessee that allows 100-thousand dollars to each commissioner for discretionary spending."

The vote was seven in favor: Mackey opposed and Beck abstaining.

Commissioners also cleared the way for Mayor Coppinger to set up a "payment in lieu of ad valorem taxes" with Chattem Chemicals, Inc.
The county already has such "Pilot" agreements with Volkswagen, Alstom and other large companies.



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