Residents leave angry after Red Bank budget approved - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Residents leave angry after Red Bank budget approved

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RED BANK, HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) - These days, you would think news that a governmental body had trimmed their budget to the bone, so as to avoid a tax increase, would evoke shouts of joy. That was not the case Monday night in Red Bank.

Red Bank has approved a new budget without the first-proposed 36-cent property tax increase.

But, the 3-to-1 vote was cast over the objections of the majority of the overflow crowd of about 50.

"Instead of stepping forward," explained Marian Ingram, resident for nearly a quarter of a century, "we've just gone backwards and that what scares me. Because I want it to get better, not worse."

They were upset about the more than a half-million-dollars worth of cuts commissioners and the city manager zeroed-in on over the course of six budget meetings.

Among the items cut, a 2% raise for city employees, computers and software.

But, the biggest bone of contention was the elimination of the codes enforcement officer.

"Red Bank has so many dilapidated properties, both residential and commercial," said Melinda Roddy, "and without someone to enforce the codes in Red Bank, I feel that we're not going to grow, economically."

More than a dozen spoke out, asking for a tax increase to at least pay for the position.

"Oh definitely," Roddy said. "I would pay 30-40% more on property tax because, I mean, we pale in comparison to how much Chattanooga has to pay in property tax."

Ingram agreed, "I work seven days a week, I can't work anymore. But, I'm still willing to pay a little bit more if it's going to improve my quality of life," she said.

And while no tax hike for the next fiscal year did leave a few at the meeting happy, a greater number left feeling disenfranchised.

"Only one speaks for the residents of Red Bank," said Roddy, speaking of Commissioner Ruth Juno, the only member voting against the new budget proposal. "And they'll have to pay when election time comes again," she added, talking of the other commissioners. "There'll be people that will run and who will support Red Bank residents."

On top of losing a two percent pay raise, the police department will get 3 new patrol cars instead of the 5 requested. Officers will not get laptops for their cruisers; the commission opted to save on the air cards that would have connected them to the Internet.

Also, residents will be asked to bag their leaves before setting them out at the curb as the leaf vacuum will be retired.

Codes enforcement duties will be handed over to Public Works.


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