TN State Senator Gardenhire proposes state law change after BID problems in Chattanooga
Chattanooga's Business Improvement District faced months of hurdles to pass this past summer. With a board established, the controversy seemed to be over.
Now State Senator Todd Gardenhire (District 10) says he's trying to change state BID laws in the next legislative session.
The BID is meant to bring in money for improving central Chattanooga. Senator Gardenhire says that's all well and good, but he doesn't want to be a part of it.
"As far as what we want to accomplish, I don't want to be on that board,” he said.
When Chattanooga's BID named its board, Senator Gardenhire got an automatic seat. He says he should have been included in the process much earlier.
"We're supposed to be involved in the recommendations of the BID and the process that goes into it. We were not involved in it,” he said.
The City Council finally passed the BID after supporters first tried to pass it by petition. Opponents say that's where they went wrong.
“The law done in 1990 was a little bit ambiguous,” Gardenhire said. "It left the impression you could do it either by petition or by ordinance."
A judge ruled earlier this month that the city didn't violate state law. But Gardenhire says the law should be clarified to keep this from happening again.
"I'm hoping to amend the law to say either-or, but you can’t do both. You have to choose one and do it,” he said.
Gardenhire's changes would apply to any future districts, but when it comes to this BID, he wants the choice to leave.
“I want the option to either come off the board, or serve on the board, or appoint somebody to take my place and be the representative,” Gardenhire said.
State Representative Robin Smith also has an automatic seat on the board. Gardenhire plans to bring up BID laws in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.