UPDATE: A proposed city ordinance has sparked a passionate debate in Chattanooga. It has to do with same-sex couples and allowing them city employee benefits. 

The public is weighing in on the controversial topic Tuesday.

Members of the public had the chance to voice their opinions to Chattanooga City Council in a hearing on the proposed ordinance.

If passed, the legislation would benefit unmarried couples of the same sex or opposite sex. It would allow the "domestic partner" of a city employee to have health and medical benefits.

It's become quite a hot button issue. Dozens of people came to Tuesday's hearing, taking the podium to voice their opions.

City council will have its first reading of the proposed ordinance next Tuesday and a second reading the following week.

Former Chattanooga Police Chief Freeman Cooper, tells Channel 3 he's strongly against the ordinance. He says that's because he and other retired city employees lost their benefits a few years ago due to budget problems.

He thinks they should be covered before the domestic partners of employees.

Again, we heard a lot of differing opions on the issue Tuesday.      




City leaders are gearing up for the hot button issue of potentially extending same sex benefits for city employees.

A public hearing is scheduled Tuesday to discuss legislation concerning these benefits.
Former Chattanooga Police Chief Freeman Cooper is speaking out against the ordinance.

City Council members, 

In July 2010 every City employee with less than 25 years of continued employment, lost all privileges to the New Wellness Center and the Benefits of the City insurance plan at age 65.  

The reason: 

The "Benefits" are just too costly to the City.  

Now all by some miraculous means the Mayor and some City Council members believe that the City can just absorb the oblivious additional cost to cover a group of people that are significant others,  in relationships with City employees.

The proposed City Ordinance (Domestic Partners Healthcare, Medical Benefits) states the additional cost to implement this benefit "based on initial research" will be "less than 1% of the total City budget." One percent seems like a small number, so let's do the math as Mrs. Scott suggested. The annual budget for the City of Chattanooga is over $200 million.  If this Ordinance passes, the City will need to find an additional $2 million dollars for the budget year 2015 alone to fund this benefit.  This amount will surely increase each year as health care cost also increases.  

This decision is being made during the same time period that a committee is deciding on ways to cut the retirement pensions of  the very people that provide a safe place for us all to Live, Work and Play, Fire and Police officers.

The reason again:  

The "Pension" is just too costly to the City.

If the City cannot pay for Benefits and Pensions for its employees, how can you even consider to pay for benefits for  partners in a relationship with a city employee?

Vote "NO" for this Ordinance, it is the only Fair and Right thing to do.

Freeman Cooper 

Retired City Employee

Mayor Andy Berke has previously spoken in favor of extending the benefits.

Stay with Channel 3 for the outcome of that hearing.