Friends of Hamilton – FAQs
Chattanooga, Cleveland and Collegedale are aggressively annexing areas within their current urban growth plans. These cities, AT ANY TIME, can request to re-open the urban growth plan and extend their boundaries into our rural communities. Chattanooga’s mayor recently stated he wants a metro government (which includes the whole county). Residents in the proposed City of Hamilton MUST ACT quickly to sign the petition and place the option to incorporate on the ballot to maintain our quality of life and ensure future planning remains local.
As a courtesy, FOH is providing this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help residents understand what is at risk. Please sign the petition at one of our locations (Savannah Valley Water, VEC, Holders Grocery, Lucky’s Bargain Barn, Steve Rays, Fresh Fitness, Chattanooga Gymnastics, Carters Shooting Supply)
Q: What is the mission of Friends of Hamilton.org?
A: To create the model city of Hamilton, with very limited infrastructure services required by the state and requested by its citizens, whose interests will be more locally – and appropriately – represented. Our objective is to increase the quality of life, keep property taxes low and streamline government operations. Working together, we can achieve this mission.
Q: Why do we have to incorporate now?
A: Time is running out. The City of Chattanooga WILL annex and taxes and fees WILL go up. Local decisions will be made by Chattanooga City Hall instead of the residents in our area. The restrictions placed on creating a new city are many. If it is not done now, we loose our opportunity for the future due to boundary encroachment by Chattanooga, Cleveland and potentially Collegedale.
Q: How will incorporating a new city affect me?
A: Residents have more control over local decisions, taxes stay local and residents will have more control over planning decisions.
Q: Will the new city provide Fire, Police and other services?
A: Yes, the goal is to enhance our existing fire service and police services with additional funding on a contract basis from the Hamilton County Highway 58 Fire Department, Hamilton County Sheriff Department and other agencies as needed. A detail service plan can be found on the website.
Q: What if my home/business is not in the initial city boundaries?
A: A number of communities are outside the initial city boundary, once incorporated the surrounding communities may self-annex into the new city of Hamilton. You can review a detail boundary map on the website.
Q: Isn’t this an overreaction to an aggressive mayor who will be out of office in early 2013?
A: NO, the mayor wouldn’t have reached this far without a supportive city council. Each major city in Tennessee has used annexation of suburban areas to help grow its revenue stream. This is not likely to change when Mayor of Chattanooga leaves office. The city of Cleveland and Chattanooga have made their grown plans known and our area is a prize for the tax revenue.
Q: Why did the City of Hamilton tax rate change from $1.5% to $1.25% from initially state?
A: The budgeted forecast enabled us to lower the tax rate and still accommodate the services required by the State of Tennessee. The goal is to maintain a flat infrastructure and tax rate while providing the best services to the community at a lowest rate.
Q: What is required to sign the petition?
A: You have to be a registered voter in Hamilton County and part of the incorporated area. If you are not registered yet, we will provide voter registration cards at the petition locations to help. We believe each US citizen has the right to vote to have their voice heard.
Q: What happens after I sign the petition?
A: Once we reach the required number of valid signatures they will be validated. A town hall meeting will be called to review the plan of services and next steps in the process. The petitions will be delivered to the Hamilton County Election Commission to be certified and an election date will be set for voting on the city.
Q: Chattanooga said it is NOT interested in the area north of Mahan Gap Rd; is this true?
A: Chattanooga IS interested and has said so publically. The current mayor desires a metro government and the finances of Chattanooga are in such poor shape that they need to aggressively annex to help them stay afloat. Visit FOH’s Facebook page and website to view more.
Q: How much will it cost me if Chattanooga annexes my property? How much will it cost if we incorporate?
A: FOH provides a FREE property cost calculator to provide a side-by-side comparison of Chattanooga Annexation versus Hamilton incorporation. Find out for yourself at http://foh.force.com to run the calculator.
Q: I don’t want to be in ANY city, is this a possibility?
A: No, because of the economic boom in our area and a number of other factors. All industrial sites have been optioned out at Enterprise South, Highway 60 is being improved, the industrial park in Cleveland is looking for more property, the state has plans to build another bridge over the Tennessee River from Soddy-Daisy to Harrison and Highway 58. In short, this area is going to grow. How much and how fast is up to us. If Chattanooga is in charge we will have NO say the process. Planning decisions will be made 20-40 miles away and impact our daily lives.
Q: Is John Pless’s story from News Channel 9 accurate? Is FOH spreading FALSE information?
A: The NewsChannel 9 story from June 13 is less than complete and a little misleading. NewsChannel 9 didn’t verify its own facts on Chattanooga pet fees and the parking fees we stated were $5-25, which was information taken directly from the City of Chattanooga’s own website. Chattanooga recently replaced this website before the story went live and all previous links were deactivated. FOH is comprised of volunteer residents with the highest ethics and strong reputations to deliver the most complete and transparent information to our community so residents can decide for themselves. Any discrepancies have been and will continue to be corrected and information updated as necessary. This was a thinly veiled Chattanooga city government-sponsored attack on FOH in an attempt to derail our community’s effort to incorporate by spreading incomplete information.
Q: I am a Farmer and my land is part of a GreenBelt. Am I safe from increased city property taxes?
A: This protection may be watered down at the state level. In 2007 the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) sought to change the four-decade-long protection from significant increases in property taxes, which may force the sale of land by some farmers for development. FOH is pro-agriculture and would like to preserve the natural resources in our community for future generations and pledges to include such provisions in our charter. Chattanooga has no agricultural provisions in their charter and limitations on poultry in their codes.
Q: What happens if we don’t incorporate?
A: Areas in northeastern Hamilton County will eventually be annexed. The boundaries for the City of Hamilton are being challenged from all sides. Tennessee State Law is specific on the requirements to incorporate. Once the boundaries change the ability to incorporate will be gone due to required buffer zones from adjoining cities based on their density of population. Choosing not to incorporate means eventual annexation, where the choice will be made for you.
Q. Can we incorporate in the future?
A. It will be much less likely that we will be able to. Once the urban growth boundaries are re-opened for negotiation, we will have no seat at the table and the current cities in the county will be able to do whatever they like with little or no voice from area residents. If we attempt to incorporate and FAIL we can’t retry for the next four years (state law).
Q. Is it possible to pass a new law to fight annexation?
A. Yes it’s possible, but the earliest a law could be implemented is 1-2 years away, if ever. By this time the Urban Growth Boundaries may well change, based on recent history. Additionally, Cleveland is not restricted by Hamilton County’s growth plan and all bets are off in 2020, as the urban growth boundaries will be reopened for negotiation.
Q: Why does Chattanooga want to annex our areas?
A: Tax revenue; Chattanooga is $800+Million dollars in debt with a reported EPA violation of $250 million. Chattanooga has two options to pay its bills:
Option 1: Annex fast and furiously to expand the tax base from residents, businesses, storm water fees, other fees, etc., in surrounding areas. In conjunction raise taxes/fees on existing residents.
Option 2: Bankrupt the city and restructure and cut cost
Q. Is my home in the proposed City of Hamilton?
A. We have two phases to incorporate the City of Hamilton. The FOH property tax cost calculator http://foh.force.com will show if your property is in Phase 1 or Phase 2 by GIS info.
Phase 1 – Residents north of Mahan Gap Rd, we NEED EVERY REGISTERED VOTER to sign the petition. If you are NOT REGISTERED, we have voter registration forms at each petition location. This group will be the anchor for incorporation of the initial city
Phase 2 – Residents south of Mahan Gap Rd, we NEED your FINANCIAL and VOLUNTEER support to help ensure phase 1 happens. Once Phase 1 is complete, residents in Phase 2 can elect to self-annex into the City of Hamilton.
Q. When is the dead line?
A: Our deadline is Aug 20th for delivery to election commission in Sept for November election.
Q: What can I do to help?
A: Ask friends, family, neighbors, church groups and others to sign. To volunteer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact info to help canvas. You can donate via PayPal on our website to help with expenses.
Q. Where can I find more information on this initiative?
A. To learn more and stay informed. Each location has different information:
– Please visit our website: http://FriendsOfHamilton.org
– “Like Us” on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfHamilton
– “Sign up” for our email newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gtmVr
– “Watch Us” on our YouTube Channel http://youtube.com/friendsofhamilton for unedited town halls, debates and area interviews by local residents and former state representatives
Q: Why the city name of “Hamilton”?
A: The city of Hamilton was an ideal choice for the communities to maintain their identities (Ooltewah, Harrison, Birchwood and Georgetown) while unifying under one city.
Q: Isn’t incorporating these affluent communities simply a way to avoid paying higher taxes that will help provide services for people of Chattanooga’s urban areas?
A: It is presumptuous for Chattanooga leaders and residents to rely on areas currently not incorporated to help balance a city budget that still finds enough money for public “art” and other unnecessary spending while police and firefighting resources continue to be insufficiently funded. State law does not allow for annexing on the basis of revenue generation alone. Area residents chose where they wanted to live; city residents as well as unincorporated county residents. It is un-American not to give these residents and business owners a voice in whether or not to be annexed. We aim to enable both to have a real choice.
Q: How can I help?
A: Click Call to Action to get involved.
Q: Is my area affected?
A: We are bound by state restrictions on area of initial incorporation.