Bradley County commissioners have committed to financing a new academic building for Lake Forest Middle School in 2017.
A motion made by 4th District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones as a substitute to the Lake Forest Middle School ad hoc committee’s recommendation was passed unanimously. Second District Commissioner Connie Wilson was absent.
The passed resolution commits up to $12 million to the project by using additional estimated revenue in the county’s long-range financial plan to borrow the money. The resolution also includes the $6 million the county would be required to pay to Cleveland City Schools. The resolution states the money will be borrowed such that the first payment would not be due until July 2017.
Under a tax-sharing agreement between the city and county, when the Bradley County Commission gives the county school system money for capital projects, one-third of the total amount must go to the city school system.
The resolution also qualifies that the money will only be used for construction and infrastructure costs.
“The cost of replacement furniture and non-infrastructure equipment will be the responsibility of the Bradley County Schools system and will not be included in the amount funded by long-term indebtness,” according to the resolution.
First District Commissioner Ed Elkins said he does not want to see the money used for equipment, such as computers, with a short use life.
“It makes no sense to me to float a 20-year bond to pay for something that has a life of five years, or six or seven at the most,” Elkins said.
Fifth District Commissioner Jeff Yarber said the Commission should be careful not to “micromanage the school board.”
A motion that would have moved the project up a year, while increasing the county’s general fund balance at a slower rate than projected, failed by a 7-6 vote.
The Commission also approved using funds from the landfill fund to clean up abandoned properties that the environmental office has been working on. The properties are expected to come up at a tax sale in the future. The funds spent will be placed as a lien on the property and will be paid back to the landfill fund.
The Commission passed a resolution that will restrict the use of the Courthouse during nonbusiness hours. Governmental and civic groups with regular meeting times will continue to meet during nonbusiness hours. However, the building will not be open for activities being held outside for the purpose of restroom access, as has been done in the past. Sixth District Commissioner Robert Rominger said the only exception was the Mainstreet Cleveland Cruise-in. That organization will be permitted to use the courthouses’ facilities until January 2014.
Also during the meeting, residents Pam O’Dryer and Dan Rawls expressed concern about the joint industrial park project.
“We were promised that Harriman would not be a through road. ... We were promised that a committee would be in place to monitor the project. ... There has never been a meeting,” O’Dryer said. “TDEC (Tennessee Department or Environment and Conservation) would not be out there investigating if things had been done like we were promised.”
Elkins said that it had been determined before the project started that Harriman Road could not be closed.
Recent conversation by the Cleveland City Council also has O’Dryer and Rawls concerned over action the county will take if the Council asks it to contribute funds to pay for an increase in road costs for the project.
Resident Rachel Veazey presented questions about what will be done for animals in the county without a contract with the city . Yarber said at this moment the county does not have a plan. Veazey said she has been collecting signatures of people who support her cause and that the County Commission should address the issue. Half of the names on her Internet survey were people in Bradley County, she said.