Most discussion during Monday's Bradley County Commission meeting focused on increases to the property tax and fire tax rates. However, commissioners also voted on other resolutions related to the 2019-20 fiscal year budget.
When Bradley County Commission members approved the budget Monday for fiscal year 2019-20, their actions included several resolutions earmarking selected appropriations.
Debate, and the subsequent votes, on property tax and fire tax rates dominated the Courthouse discussion, but resolutions also gave the nod to the funding of a variety of departments and nonprofit organizations.
Discussion also centered on the PIE Center which was approved by county commissioners, but will be funded by a bond issue in the 2020-21 budget.
Among these additional resolutions debated, and approved, by county commissioners in formal votes Monday were:
• A resolution making appropriations for the various funds, departments, institutions, offices and agencies of Bradley County, Tennessee, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2020.
This resolution outlines the overall allocation for each budget fund in the General Fund, Pike Road Fund, Public Library Fund, General Debt Service Fund, Law Library, Fire District Fund, Sheriff’s Drug Fund, Solid Waste/Sanitation Fund, AgriCenter Fund, Other Capital Projects, County Schools, Health-Wellness and Quality of Life Capital Projects, Community Development, and County Schools-Education Capital Projects.
Commissioner Milan Blake said now that the property tax rate has been set, the County Commission has to allocate appropriations.
"This basically tells everybody exactly where the money is going," Blake said.
The resolution was approved 10-4, with Blake and commissioners Bobby Goins, Erica Davis, Kevin Raper, Bill Winters, Dennis Epperson, Louie Alford and Thomas Crye, and Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber and Chairman Johnny Mull voting in favor of it. Commissioners Charlotte Peak, Howard Thompson, Tim Mason and Mike Hughes voted against it.
• A resolution making appropriations to nonprofit charitable organizations of Bradley County for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2020.
The resolution includes funding for multiple organizations including Bradley County E-911 Emergency Communications District, Southeast Tennessee Human Resource Agency, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region, Fort Hill Cemetery Association, MainStreet Cleveland, and Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, among others.
Blake presented the resolution for nonprofits to receive funding, noting they have to submit financial information to county officials.
The vote to approve the resolution was unanimous.
In other business, the County Commission:
• Approved a resolution to commit funding of up to $12 million to fund the renovation of the PIE Center with a bond issue to commence October 2020. Funding for the Partnerships in Industry & Education Center, or PIE Center, was removed from the proposed property tax increase last week.
The PIE Center funding is not part of the 2019-20 budget. (See a related correction on Page 2.)
Blake said the Finance Committee took the PIE Center out of the tax increase, "but we do need to approve the project itself," and the timetable.
Peak asked why not wait until next summer to vote, so commissioners can "get all our questions answered."
Hughes agreed, adding he is concerned about committing the funding for a time so far out on the calendar, and something happens to impact it.
Blake said the school board needs direction from the County Commission.
"We are what I call 'just-in-time-funding' this," Blake said.
Crye said it is critical for the schools to move forward, adding it shows an obligation and commitment to the PIE Center.
"We need a commitment now so we can act on some of these grants and move forward," Crye said.
Peak said speaking as a builder, there is a PILOT program in Memphis and new educational grants available if part of the PIE Center is dedicated to residential building trades.
"I will be watching this next year to see what comes to fruition," Peak said.
Mason said he is "all for" education and the PIE Center, but "when it's too far out to see, it pulls me back."
The resolution was approved 11-3 with “yes” votes from Blake, Mull, Peak, Thompson, Yarber, Davis, Raper, Winters, Epperson, Alford and Crye. “No” votes were cast by Goins, Mason and Hughes.
During the time in the meeting set aside for comments from the audience, Dr. Linda Cash, Bradley County's director of schools, commented as a county resident. She said with the resolution to commit funding for the PIE Center, the school system can look at the PIE Center as a full build-out, not a partial one.
Cash also spoke directly to Epperson, who has been advocating for several weeks for a roof to soon be put on the PIE Center: Cash said they will definitely do the roof "as fast as we can."
• Approved accepting Augustus Way N.E. into the county road system. The Road Committee voted last week to accept it and recommended it to the full County Commission.
• Approved a motion to present Alan Walsh with his Bradley County Sheriff’s Office service weapon upon his retirement on July 31. Walsh has recently served as captain of the Corrections division, and has been with the sheriff’s office for 36 years.
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