By BRIAN GRAVES
County Mayor D. Gary Davis said it is a misperception the city of Cleveland and county government do not work well together.His comments Wednesday at the Cleveland Lions Club were spurred by a …
County Mayor D. Gary Davis said it is a misperception the city of Cleveland and county government do not work well together.
His comments Wednesday at the Cleveland Lions Club were spurred by a question by Cleveland Vice Mayor Avery Johnson, a member of the organization.
“We hear a lot of times how the city and county do not work together and how we always end up in some kind of conflict,” Johnson said. “In your opinion, what is the best project the city and the county have worked together on and been successful with?”
Davis said there are “a bunch of them.”
“The perception that we don’t get along and don’t work together is just wrong,” he said. “I could make you a list a mile long of joint-funded projects.”
He noted the Spring Branch Industrial Park, for which the funding is coming from both entities.
“We do all kinds of things together,” Davis said. “With the exception of local media, those things don’t make news unless the city has an idea for a project that we may not want to do. That makes news.”
“Most of the things the county does we do because the law requires us to,” he said. “We’ve got to provide courts. We’ve got to provide a sheriff’s office. We’ve got to provide a jail. We’ve got to have a landfill. We’ve got to have all of these things.”
Davis said the city is different because “they can pick and choose what they do.”
“They can have a police department or not. They can have a school system or not,” he said. “The county may not can do more than is what required at this time. Where the city says they want to build an airport, we may say we have to build Lake Forest school.”
He said while the priorities may not always be the same, it does not mean there is no cooperation.
“About the only large projects we have not done since I have been in office was the airport where the county was not interested in being a participant, but we did have to agree to rezoning and other issues,”
Davis said. “It was a cooperative effort, but we just didn’t partner with them. I went to Nashville several times promoting the need for an airport.”
The mayor said he had worked for a few years to get greenways started.
“It was a little more county at first, then the city came on board and it’s probably more city than county,” Davis said. “We continue to make a donation, but it’s their public works and engineering that do most of it. That’s why it’s called the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway.”
He also said the Cleveland Community Services is a 50/50 split between the city and the county.
“The 911 Center, which is one of the best anywhere around is 50/50 funding,” Davis said. “And, there are many projects that are 80/20 funded.”
Davis said that does not mean the two bodies never disagree.
“There are times the city council and the county commission will have different priorities and sometimes you hear the bickering, but that’s part of it,” he said.
The mayor mentioned the cooperation of the city after the fire at the courthouse and the offer to use city facilities, especially when it involved the courts.
“Those courtrooms were sitting there ready to be used on that Monday,” Davis said. “We appreciate that and it was not a problem to get that approval.”
“You name a project and I’ll bet you we partnered on it to some extent,” Davis said. “I can assure you the cooperation is there.”
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