Jetport, animal control debated
by DAVID DAVIS,Managing Editor
May 30, 2013 | 2797 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cleveland City Council took action Tuesday on two items that did not appear on the agenda, but came up in discussion during the work session.

At-Large Councilman Richard Banks offered two resolutions concerning Cleveland Regional Jetport and animal control that would require the cooperation of the Bradley County Commission. Council members approved both resolutions by a 7-0 vote.

The Council urged the county to allocate growth from personal property taxes on aircraft and leasehold property taxes above the amount generated at Hardwick Field toward Cleveland Regional Jetport operations.

Banks suggested the idea during the 1 p.m. work session during which Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority Vice Chairman Lou Patten updated city officials on private donations to pay for constructing the terminal building.

“It seems to me that if the county receives tax revenue from the efforts of the airport authority and the city putting together a first-class facility; and, it seems to me that if we went on record asking them to use that increased revenue, for a certain period of time, as an abatement or an incentive because the county benefits from it; I would think they could treat that as an incentive to help offset some of the shortfall that we have, or to do some of the things we need,” Banks said.

Patten said he discussed the benefits of the airport with county officials early on in the task of building the new general aviation facility.

“The benefit is that they are going to get other companies ... like a Wacker in the county,” Banks said.

Terminal building construction and furnishings cost $1.928 million. The state and city each contributed $350,000 for a total of $700,000 for the terminal. The Airport Authority is responsible for raising the remaining $1.228 million through private donations.

So far, the airport authority has received $111,400 of $311,400 in pledges from 12 donors. The airport authority has paid fundraiser Byrne Allen $50,242 in fees, which leaves a net amount of $61,158. The airport authority still needs to raise $916,600.

The airport authority is hopeful the construction deficit is erased by the sale of Hardwick Field. However, that might not occur now until the first of 2014.

Patten explained that Hardwick Field cannot be sold until after 20 T-hangars are built at the new airport. Otherwise, he said, the tenants at Hardwick would have no place to go. The airport authority awarded a contract for T-hangar construction on May 17. The completion date is in the late summer or early fall.

Hardwick Field will be sold under some form of public auction, in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

“We hope it will generate a lot of interest and we’ll raise a lot of money,” Patten said. “Whatever is raised in that sale will go back to the city for the city’s portion of funding on the airport.”

The total construction cost of Cleveland Regional Jetport when it opened in January was $42.32 million. The state and federal share was $36.37 million. The city’s share was $5.94 million. The cost was split between federal, state, and local governments through a mix of matching grants in percentages ranging from 50/50 to 95/5 shares.

The second impromptu resolution concerned the animal control contract between the city and county, which expires June 30.

At its Feb. 25 meeting, the City Council discussed a letter from County Mayor D. Gary Davis stating the county’s intention to end the animal control contract on June 30. Davis said the county is exercising its option to terminate the “Agreement for Animal Control Services.”

The county mayor wrote that he welcomed the opportunity to discuss options for a new contract that would be satisfactory to both parties.

A month later at its March 25 meeting, the City Council said it was willing to continue providing all of Bradley County with an animal shelter, provide for animals needing protection and adoption, and continue toward certification as a no-kill city.

Banks offered a motion at the March meeting to extend the current agreement for a three-year period. The motion was approved by a vote of 7-0. The city’s proposal was based on the fiscal year 2014 operating budget of $649,007 plus depreciation costs, which raised the amount to $663,174. After sales, fees and fines of $31,433 the net operating cost was estimated at $631,741. The county’s share would be 56.2 percent or $355,038.

The county proposed a contract based on the previous year’s operating budget of $548,043. Under that proposal, the county share would be $298,455, or $56,583 less than the city’s offer.

In the past calendar year, 1,687 animals came from the city and 3,114 animals came from the county for a total of 4,801. Animal control officers responded to a total of 7,888 calls, of which 3,867 were in the city and 4,021 in the county. Overall, 56.2 percent of the animals and calls came from the city.

City Manager Janice Casteel said Tuesday that if the Council offered to base the contract on audited numbers, “there might be some more (Commission) votes that would come in that direction. When you send a message that it’s Option A or nothing, there could be some votes lost there.”

Casteel said commissioners do not like the city proposal because it is based on next year’s numbers.

“What they would like you to do is use an audited number, which would be last year’s numbers, or for us to true up at some point,” she said. “When you step into the county’s shoes and look at a fair number to pay off of, audited numbers are easy to see.”

Vice Mayor Avery Johnson said a lot of work has gone into making Cleveland a no-kill city.

“We’ve got the highest adoption rate we’ve ever had and now here we are dealing with money issues again,” he said. “We’re trying to put a lot of priority on that rather than doing what’s right. It’s disheartening to the (animal control) committee if we don’t get this straightened out so we can have a no-kill shelter.”

Casteel said the county could opt for ending animal pickup in the county. If that happens, she said, then animals outside the city would run wild.

“If that happens, then your utilization goes up and your support of the shelter goes up. At the same time, we’ve lost ground,” Casteel said. “You’d lose the program you built.”