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Chattanooga City Council approves temporary budget

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The city of Chattanooga is taking up a temporary budget for the next few months. Council members said the new mayor's administration needs more time to evaluate departments and set priorities.

Monday evening, Chattanooga City Council unanimously voted to adopt the temporary budget from July to September. This will give Andy Berke and his administration more time to work out their budget.

"They need an opportunity to reevaluate what we're spending money on. We've had some changes as for what the makeup of different departments are, so as a result of that, we're putting together a short term budget," said Councilman Yusuf Hakeem.

Hakeem said the overall budget for Chattanooga will likely cost $209 million. The interim budget will cost about a fourth of that.

Councilwoman Carol Berz chairs the city's Budget and Finance Committee. She said she's glad the Berke Administration is taking some time to figure out its finances.

"I would hope they would, since it is a new administration, and since they're retooling a number of the departments, it makes better sense for them to take more time," Berz said.

No one from the Berke Administration was available to comment Monday evening.

Council members said their proposals are generally inline with Berke's. They said the administration just needs to work out its priorities.

There's a list of areas in need. "Public safety, anything we can do to aid education, planning for a new and different growing city. We're looking at a lot of different things, but we're waiting for the administration to bring forth their priorities as well," Berz said.

Councilman Hakeem said roads will also be on that list.

The Wilcox Tunnel's leaking and lighting issues were specifically mentioned at Monday's meeting. Council authorized Mayor Berke to go after some grant money.

"There's funding that we're seeking from the federal government that will assist us in building another tunnel. At the same time, whether we get another tunnel or not, this one needs to be upgraded," Hakeem said.

The Berke Administration is expected to have a full budget proposal ready by July 31st. That will replace the interim budget as soon as council approves it.

Also at Monday's meeting, Chattanooga City Council approved Mayor Berke's appointments of Bobby Dodd as Chattanooga Police Chief, Daisy Madison as Chief Finance Officer, and Wade Hinton as City Attorney.

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