The city of Cleveland will not require the Bradley Cleveland Community Services Agency to repay money for a new air-conditioning unit for the Bradley/ Cleveland Senior Center at 230 Urbane Road, N.E.
Earlier in the summer, Community Services Agency Director Demetrius Ramsey requested money from the city and county to replace both HVAC units at the center that serves 500 to 600 seniors per week.
Ramsey explained to the City Council Monday that much of the Cleveland Services Agency’s funding flows through the federal and state governments. Because the building belongs to the county, “We were prohibited from using funds for the HVAC units because the building is not in the name of Bradley/Cleveland Community Services Agency,” Ramsey said.
At a recent meeting, the city contributed $11,600 for one unit with the expectation that the county would contribute a like amount for the other unit. However, the motion by At-Large Councilman George Poe at that meeting earlier in the summer was not contingent upon the county funding the second unit.
“My motion didn’t have anything to do with the county,” Poe said Monday during discussion. “The county wasn’t mentioned in that motion.”
Ramsey said, “We hope and we pray that you will change your mind and you will help us out because we are not able to refund that $11,600. We would certainly try to raise some funds to do that, but that would be very difficult.”
He said it would be difficult to raise the money at this time because the agency is in the middle of a fundraising campaign to build transitional housing as program of the Cleveland Emergency Shelter.
In addition, Ramsey said the Committee on Aging receives funds through the United Way of Bradley County, which is in its annual fall campaign. United Way agencies cannot raise funds during the UW campaign.
“We also have a fundraising campaign for the annual senior Christmas party where we serve anywhere from 600 to 800 senior citizens with a traditional meal. We make sure every senior citizen who comes to the party leaves with some type of gift or token of love,” he said.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis explained the county’s position in an Aug. 8 letter to the city. He wrote the Community Services Agency, which operates the senior center among other programs, is funded locally and equally by the city and county.
“The senior center itself is a little different,” he wrote. “You may recall the Senior Center was originally ‘The Pit Stop’ Teen Center. The facility, which was built on county property, was funded partially through donations from private citizens. Also, a loan was obtained from Cleveland Bank & Trust in the amount of $300,000 by local businessman George R. Johnson. Mr. Johnson established the loan in the name of Cleveland/Bradley County Youth Center.”
Davis explained the Pit Stop became insolvent and ceased to operate or maintain the facility. It was administratively dissolved by the secretary of state on June 21, 1991, leaving a Cleveland Bank & Trust loan unpaid and sums of $21,000 and $14,000 owed to two local contractors for labor and materials.
Davis stated the lease was terminated and the facility became the property of the county. Subsequently the county agreed to satisfy $150,000 of the outstanding balance of the loan, and George R. Johnson agreed to pay the remainder of the loan. The Committee on Aging agreed to pay the outstanding debts owed to the local contractors.
“On March 3, 1992, Bradley County agreed to ‘engage’ the Committee on Aging to operate and maintain the former Pit Stop premises,” Davis continued. “At that time the Committee on Aging agreed to operate and maintain, at the entire expense of the Committee on Aging and, without direct cost to the county.
“Please understand that the county is not asking the city to fund the $11,500 air unit request. It is totally a city decision. However, since it is not part of any agreement, any decision should not be contingent upon county matching funds,” he wrote. “The county spent $150,000 on the building [and] gave it to the Committee on Aging, in the form of a no cost lease, and feels the Committee on Aging should raise the money itself, with the city's help, if you so choose.”
Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel said the Council could choose to identify the $11,600 as a donation or deduct it from the annual appropriations to the agency. Deducting appropriations would impact the agency’s budget and federal and state dollars.
“That would be a very painful solution,” she said.