Council, county board to meet
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jan 28, 2014 | 817 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Progress could be made in ending confusion and disagreement over liquor-by-the-drink tax distribution following a vote by the Cleveland City Council to meet with the Bradley County Board of Education.

Councilman at-large Richard Banks made a motion Monday to meet with the county school board. It was passed unanimously.

A request will also be made for more specifics on the back taxes the city allegedly owes the Bradley County School system.

“I would like them to provide for us specifics as to why legally with a school we would be obligated for anything,” Banks said.

The motion stated the Council wants the specifics in writing.

Banks said this would give Council members a chance to review the data before the meeting.

City government officials have maintained since the city operates its own school system, which receives funding from the liquor tax, it does not have to share these revenues with the county schools.

Each side is citing the Tennessee Code Annotated as support for its position.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said the interpretation of the law discussed in the meetings of the county does not seem to line up with the text of the law.

The county school board has met with attorney Jim Logan Jr., who has asserted the city owes the county school system more than $700,000. The school board voted to enter a contract with Logan during a recent meeting.

“The last thing we need to do is get into litigation with the county,” Banks said.

A letter was sent by the school system to the City Council to ask for a meeting in December. At a Dec. 23 meeting, the Council responded to the letter reiterating that it had acted in accordance with the law.

Details of the meeting are yet to be determined.

Many local governments in Tennessee are facing similar issues. Attention to the issue began following a finding by the state comptroller that the local portion of the liquor-by-the-drink tax was not correctly distributed in some areas. However, many municipalities in Tennessee do not operate a separate school system.

Also during the meeting, updates were given on other projects.

n The South local Interstate Connector has received notice of completion from the Tennessee Department of Environment and conservation, according to Jonathan Jobe, director of planning and engineering.

“That’s good news,” Jobe said.

He said some issues had to be addressed before TDEC would acknowledge the project as complete, but all of these were resolved.

n The Cleveland City Council approved annexation of the prospective site of the Cleveland Bradley County State Veterans Home.

Rowland said annexing the property could help the local governments as they demonstrate that concerns about the land can be fixed.

n Funding that had been earmarked for a project on Adkisson Drive will be used to fund capital projects deemed as immediate needs by the City Council. These included a bathroom renovation at the South Cleveland Community Center, wall reinforcement at the College Hill Recreation Center and an extension of the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway.

City Manager Janice Casteel said the Adkisson Drive project was being delayed a year.

Jobe said he had already been in discussion with property owners for the needed easements to extend the Greenway.

n Casteel gave an update on concerns that had been voiced about The Summit, a housing development for low-income or disabled residents. The facility’s owner is installing an additional elevator, has installed security cameras and has entered a contract with an exterminator.

“They have hired an activities coordinator and they may have a tenant board. That was something else that has been suggested, so he is looking at that,” Casteel said of the owner.

Comments were also made that the building may be restored to its historic look and purpose, while relocating the apartments.

Casteel said the mayor would be in contact with MainStreet Cleveland on the subject.

n Casteel told the Council two employees from Cleveland Animal Control will move to the Parks and Recreation department at the end of the animal contract with the city.

SPCA of Bradley County will be providing animal control services outside the city limits.