City considers rezoning

Utilities plight of senior center reviewed by city, county officials

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 9/2/18

A letter read during last week's Cleveland City Council meeting asking for help with a utility bill resulted in Council members placing the item on their meeting agenda in an attempt solve the …

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City considers rezoning

Utilities plight of senior center reviewed by city, county officials

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A letter read during last week's Cleveland City Council meeting asking for help with a utility bill resulted in Council members placing the item on their meeting agenda in an attempt solve the unusual problem.

The letter, sent by Cleveland/Bradley Community Services Agency Executive Director Demetrius Ramsey, requested help regarding a Cleveland Utilities sewer and water bill. A copy of the letter was also sent to the Bradley County Commission.

According to the message, Cleveland Utilities conducted an audit of an invoice billed to the Bradley County Senior Activity Center. After searching for and locating the water meter, CU officials discovered  water and sewer service was incorrectly billed for inside-city rates. The water meter, as well as the building, is located in the county.

CU then billed the agency $5,065.58 – a bill the agency says it cannot pay.

While the billing error dates back 14 years, CU is required by law to only bill the agency for past amounts incurred during the last three years. 

Ramsey wrote the debt would restrict the agency from fulfilling the many services it provides to the region, resulting in cuts to meal delivery services, emergency shelter services, electric payment assistance, financial assistance, weatherized programs and utility payment assistance.

In addition, the corrected rate, which will be higher because the agency will be paying an out-of-city-rate, will increase by approximately $2,000 to $3,000 per year the amount the agency will have to pay in addition to its past-due debt.

As a result, Ramsey proposed a solution whereby the city would annex the agency’s facility, so seniors can continue benefitting from services offered by the agency. 

City Manager Joe Fivas told Council members during the last  meeting, there had been a request from a county representative to repair a deteriorating septic system at the ballfields located at the same site as the agency’s senior center.

“If [it] were annexed into the city, the sewer costs for the senior center would be reduced and the cost for the sewer utilization for the park would be reduced.” Fivas said.

Vice Mayor Avery Johnson stressed the importance of the agency for the community. 

“They have a lot of programs that help a lot of people,” Johnson said. “I feel like we can fix this problem and would like to see it on the 3 p.m. agenda.”

Councilman Richard Banks proposed a solution that he had written to be placed on the Council’s agenda.

“Here’s what I propose in dealing with the letter from Demetrius Ramsey,” Banks said.

“In an effort to foster and promote a good and professional relationship between the Bradley County Commission and the Cleveland City Council, the mayor and the members of the Cleveland City Council respectfully request the Bradley County Commission review and take action as requested in the letter dated Aug. 23, 2018, to the Bradley County Commission from Demetrius Ramsey, the executive director of the Bradley Cleveland Community Services Agency. This remedial action will allow the common goal of both bodies of elected officials to continue to provide beneficial and needed services for our senior citizens at a lower cost of operating expenses,” Banks said as he read the resolution to Council.

“That's my motion,” Banks said.

The resolution passed.

In other business, the Council passed the following consent agenda items:

• A final passage on rezoning 1.27 areas located at 1805 Dalton Pike S.E. from R2 low density single and multi-family residential zoning district to CH commercial highway zoning district.

• A final passage on abandoning an unopened section of Jones Avenue S.W., located between Huff Avenue S.W. and Parker Street S.W.

• A street light recommendation for Jerry Freeman located at Henderson Avenue and Cottage Grove Circle N.W. (Cleveland Utilities recommends no additional lighting; Henderson Avenue meets city guidelines and Cottage Grove Circle is not a city street.)

• A resolution authorizing the mayor to sign a rescue agreement with Animal Care Trust dba/McKamey Animal Center.

• A resolution amending the Authorized Employees List for the FY2019 Budget.

• A motion to declare Mayor Tom Rowland's desk, credenza, chair and computer surplus property and donate them to the Museum Center at Five Points for an exhibit of the mayor's office.

In unfinished business the Council:

• Considered a street light recommendation for Lavinia Johnson located at Moore Place N.W. (Staff recommends upgrading the existing fixture at the end of the cul-de-sac to a 51-watt LED fixture).

• Passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign an agreement with Servidores, LLC related to the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality project.

In new business the Council:

• Considered approval of giving direction to city staff to develop streetscape design for Parker Street from Central Avenue to Inman Street and after council approval of design to begin construction.

• Appointed Barrett Painter for the municipal judge post for an additional two-year term to expire in September 2020.

• A resolution amending the Personnel Rules and Regulations related to hospitalization insurance and operations/use of drones.

City offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 3, for Labor Day.

The City Council will meet in its 3 p.m. session on Monday, Sept 10, at the Museum Center. There will be no 1 p.m. work session. Mayor-elect Kevin Brooks and Councilman-elect Ken Webb will be sworn in.

The city offices will be closed Monday, Oct. 8, for Columbus Day. In addition, there will be no City Council meeting on Oct. 8. The next meeting will be at 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, following its 1 p.m. work session.

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