County commissioners discuss assessor fees and storm water fees

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Hamilton County Commissioners voted Wednesday morning to temporarily waive assessor fees that individual municipalities in the county should have been paying. But, in exchange, commissioners are looking at a possible agreement with the city of Chattanooga to stop storm water fees that schools are now paying.

The Hamilton County commission has voted to waive more than $772,000 in reappraisal costs that the county’s 10 cities should have been paying for almost 30 years, according to state law. County property assessor Marty Haynes discovered that over-sight and alerted the county leaders last week.

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Commissioners voted unanimously to skip the fees since most municipalities are not prepared to pay them.

But Commissioner Joe Graham saw an opportunity to cut a deal.

Commissioner Joe Graham said, “If we were to come up with an agreement with the city. These assessor fees, it would made them go away for long term, if they made storm water fees go away long term. It would be a wash.”

The city began charging schools storm water fees back in 2010.

Commissioner Tim Boyd added, “We need the cooperation from the city to forgo this storm water fee so that half a million dollars can be used where it needs to be used–teacher salaries, teachers’ supplies.”

Assessor Haynes says he doesn’t know if that idea will work or not.

Haynes said, “The statute reads all cities in a county. And that’s – I’m not an attorney whether they want to make it an individual agreement with each municipality – that’s for legal to figure out, not me.”

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of Commissioner Tim Boyd’s motion to come up with a long-term solution before the next reappraisal in 2021..

Haynes says that any fees that may be collected would go to the general fund.

Assessor Haynes also said, “The money does not come to the assessor’s office. It goes to county general government and they can disperse it, whether they want to go for public, public education, public safety whatever, wherever they want to spend it.”

Commissioners Graham and Boyd indicated they would pursue discussions with the city of Chattanooga about storm water fees.