CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- There was little discussion beforehand, but the Hamilton county commission went ahead and passed their balanced budget without a tax increase this morning.
It came despite a room full of school supporters and the new superintendent-elect, who were hoping to somehow get more funding this year.
The vote to pass the 691.5 million dollar budget for fiscal 2018 came quickly. Commissioner Tim Boyd wanted to delay the vote, but did not get a second.
The other eight commissioners voted to pass it, but that did not stop public response before the session adjourned.
“The board of education also asked for 24-million dollars a year in operating expenses which were not covered in this year’s budget by the county. So the board of education did not get everything that they asked for,” said Jonas Barriere.
Unified brought dozens of supporters of the tax increase, who left after the vote.
“Its a community that’s really hungry to get involved. This has really been a rising tide for us…uh, we’ve had over 2000 letters signed with commission..its really disappointing to see that they didn’t hear that message today,” said Zeke Starr.
“The county has 350-million dollars of deferred maintenance and new buildings that are not being addressed at all this year…so they put about 5-million dollars a year towards that 360-million dollar problem. And the county just continually digs itself into a hole as far as new schools and better schools go,” said Barriere.
Commissioners have not passed a tax increase in 12 years—frequently citing it’s impact on those on a fixed income.
But some who spoke think it will have to happen eventually.
“Ladies and gentlemen…we must pay for it. Let’s just don’t say to our new superintendent and our board of education ‘we’re going to support you with everything you need’ unless we mean it…unless we mean it,” said Franklin McCallie.
“Do you expect the community to believe that if you won’t raise taxes to fund education this year , that it will happen next year ..two months before the election. And if not next year..which year?” said Rosabell Gorman.