The county’s share of the purchase would not be paid back until 2014, after money from industrial payment in lieu of taxes starts coming in from the new industries.
The Bradley County Commission Finance Committee voted to make a recommendation to the Commission that the governing body accept the plan.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis presented the committee with a breakdown of money being put in the community development fund until the 2014 fiscal year. The charts showed that if the county set aside $1 million in the fiscal year 2013 and 2014 budgets, it would be able to repay the city and still have $348,000, with almost $597,000 left in the community development general fund in the respective years. These figures did not include the interest that would be paid, because the exact rate was unknown.
“I can’t speak for them (the city and Cleveland Utilities), they’ll have to take action themselves, but everyone is pretty much in agreement to go through with it,” Davis said.
Since the city would handle borrowing the money, the county and Cleveland Utilities would have separate agreements with it about refunding the money. Cleveland Utilities would receive a return on its investment, when land in the industrial park is sold.
Discussion during the finance meeting addressed how the county portion of revenue from selling lots in the industrial park would be handled. In the past, this money has gone back to the Industrial Development Board. However, a resolution the Commission will be voting on Tuesday states the money would be given back to the county.
Committee member Jeff Morelock said he would like to remove this part of the resolution and follow the previously used setup.
Doug Berry, vice president of community development for the Industrial Development Board, said the money it receives from the sale of the land would be used for engineering and working toward attracting other industries to come to the area.
There would be additional costs to the county and city to provide additional needed infrastructure for the site.
Davis said discussion with the others involved has mentioned using money from selling the first lots in the park to pay for further needed infrastructure before it is divided between the city, county and Cleveland Utilities.
The county has already committed $2 million to building an access road to the site.
- The Finance Committee also discussed considering hiring a consultant to help with a projection of expected revenue and fund balances beyond the fiscal year 2014 before a decision is made about construction needs for Bradley County Schools.
The issue will be brought up at a future meeting of the Commission.
Committee member Ed Elkins said he wanted to see these projections before the county committed to the projects.
Elkins said he would like information on multiple funds, including the general fund, debt service fund, community development and schools.
County Finance Director Lynn Burns and Legislative Assistant to the Commission Amy Moore said this would be a major project because many assumptions would need to be made to provide projected numbers. The county finance department does not have enough employees to dedicate to such a project, according to Burns.
Morelock pointed out that waiting until growth can pay for the projects would mean putting off the project for three or four years. If revenue from growth is not used for the projects, a tax increase (or the implementation of a wheel tax) would be needed to fund the projects.
“If we waited until 2015, we could be way behind,” Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said.
McDaniel explained that portable classrooms are already being used for the pre-kindergarten classes. Further growth would mean more portable classrooms if the construction and renovation requests are not addressed. McDaniel said he does not want to have multiple portables at the schools. Chairperson Connie Wilson agreed.
The school system has requested $25,560,000 to fund purchasing land for a new middle school, a new academic building at Lake Forest Middle School, an eight-classroom pod at Walker Valley High School and building a new Blue Springs Elementary School.