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Chattanooga City Council OKs employee raises, but defers relief funding for nonprofits, small businesses

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Chattanooga metropolis workers will obtain one-time bonuses earlier than Christmas after the Metropolis Council handed half of a proposed budget amendment. In the meantime, extra coronavirus aid funding for small companies and nonprofits has been deferred till subsequent 12 months.

Throughout its final assembly of the 12 months, the Chattanooga Metropolis Council voted to approve a $1.7 million funds modification to offer $400 every to workers who have been capable of make money working from home through the pandemic and $500 to those that weren’t.

The funds, authorized late Tuesday, will go to all non-elected metropolis workers on their Dec. 18 paychecks.

The one-time bonuses assist workers who did not obtain any raises after town budget was rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and an EF-3 twister on Easter Sunday. These hurdles resulted in additional than $8 million in last-minute cuts, a hiring freeze and different precautions to assist town climate the financial impacts of the virus.

(READ MORE: Before COVID-19, Chattanooga was set to increase minimum wage to $15 to match market)

The opposite a part of the funds modification launched late final month by the mayor’s workplace was a proposal to spend another $300,000 of the city’s funds for small companies hurting from the pandemic. The remaining roughly $500,000 in federal aid funding would go to offset different impacts of the virus by way of donations to nonprofit organizations such because the United Means of Better Chattanooga.

Whereas the bonuses obtained unanimous council approval, the nonprofit portion of the remaining expenditure brought about sufficient debate to be deferred by council members till a funds and finance committee assembly firstly of the 12 months.

The choice to defer all the extra spending fearful some council members.

“This is the place my concern comes from: we’re pushing aside one thing that’s funding small companies,” Councilman Jerry Mitchell stated Tuesday afternoon. “To attend to [Jan.] 5, and at this time’s what, Dec. 15, what number of companies are we going to lose earlier than we even get to the fifth and discuss it once more?”

Council Chair Chip Henderson, who has been cautious about spending the remaining {dollars} all through the four-week dialogue, stated the council is utilizing this time to make a extra knowledgeable choice on tips on how to spend that cash and in the end would lose solely a couple of week if it authorized a model efficient on second studying, relatively than leaving the usual two-week wait interval.

“I would like that we wait till the fifth to get the knowledge that we requested, that we would have liked,” Henderson stated Tuesday. “And I do know that previously we have labored collectively as a council once we’ve had considerations, once we’ve had extra info wanted. We have labored collectively to ensure that we make the perfect choice potential.

“So I’d respectfully request that we go forward and observe our plan of motion that we set forth final week and deal with this on the fifth.”

Mitchell agreed, however solely after saying he was “very, very, very, very involved” about dropping extra small companies if the council put the vote off till January.

“I am going to respectfully yield about transferring to the fifth, however the different factor that considerations me within the delay is the rental help coverage and the funding to the meals banks,” Councilman Erskine Oglesby stated. “Given the occasions that we’re in, I get a number of calls from individuals petrified of their lack of ability to feed their households in addition to the potential of being evicted.”

Henderson stated he acknowledges the stress that has been positioned on council members in making this choice, however he needs the physique to “look skilled” and “appear like [they] know what [they’re] doing once they current it and have the ability to vote on it.”

Kerry Hayes, chief of employees to Mayor Andy Berke, stated the administration will work with the council to give you an alternate plan that it could approve as quickly as potential.

“Struggling small companies and Chattanoogans who’re out of labor want our assist proper now,” he instructed the Instances Free Press. “We’re glad that town’s hard-working workers will obtain some help earlier than the tip of the 12 months, however we’ll proceed to work with the Metropolis Council about how we are able to get extra aid to our small companies and households as quickly as potential.”

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Observe her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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