Commissioners discussed both subjects during a work session Tuesday night.
The change to the county’s fire districts came as a recommendation from the Bradley County Fire Board.
It proposes changing the new districts to be calculated as properties which are five road miles from one of the county’s 10 stations fully staffed by paid emergency personnel.
It would exempt parcels of 200 acres or more that are cut by the new district lines, and those rates would be split and determined by the actual amount of acreage within the boundaries.
County Mayor D. Gary Davis noted there were many residents, including himself, who have benefitted from having new fire stations nearby for sometime without having the district charge.
“If you are within five miles of Station 10 which is where I’m at, you’ve been getting that service for three years without an adjustment,” Davis said, noting three other areas which had been in the same situation for more than a year.
The issue will be on next Monday’s voting session which will begin at 7 p.m. in the Commission meeting room at the County Courthouse.
Commissioners will also take up the issue of smoking on county property, which was brought to the forefront by the use of the new e-cigarettes.
The resolution proposed by 4th District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones would “prohibit smoking, the use of tobacco products, and the use of vapor products, including but not limited to electronic cigarettes in all buildings owned and leased by Bradley County.”
Fourth District Commissioner J. Adam Lowe noted a group of pro-vapor constituents and business people told the Commission last week they would understand the Commission taking such an action.
Sixth District Commissioner Mel Griffith suggested the Commission chairman create a committee to look into the state’s septic tank program.
“We were told if [the county] wouldn’t take it over, which we apparently have the authority to do, things would work better,” he said.
Griffith said his experience has shown there is almost no response when an inspector is required.
“They never answer the phone,” he said. “When they did call back, they said they didn’t know anything about it and they’d get back to me. I guess they’re still looking into it.”
Peak-Jones said the building commission has been “looking into this for years.”
“We did bring it before the County Commission, but at that time I think we saw it would not be cost-effective,” she said. “But, I do think it would be a move in the right direction. We have issues all the time. I have a worksite that has been shut down for three weeks now because the inspection was not done as it was scheduled three weeks ago.”
She said county inspectors “do theirs in a timely manner.”
First District Commissioner Terry Caywood said he supported those thoughts “a thousand percent.”
“I went three times personally to that office and could never get them to return my calls,” he said. “The fourth time, you would have thought I was a criminal. It was like, ‘What are you doing here? I don’t have time for you.’”
He said three backhoe operators told him the problems “are killing us.”
“I think it’s time we did something about this,” Caywood said.
Caywood also reported he had attended a meeting of the Corridor 60 committee which was held as a closed session.
He announced there would be an open meeting of the committee on June 12 at 10 a.m., at the municipal building.
Caywood noted there was no representation on the committee by either school system.
“We are going to approach them to see if they want to provide a representative,” Caywood said. “I think that’s very appropriate since it involves the possibility of a new exchange at Hopewell.”
He lamented the schools are considered businesses and because of that would be required to fund their own traffic study, should they want changes in the roadways near their facilities.
“I don’t know how the school board’s going to handle that,” he said.
Fifth District Commissioner Jeff Yarber used his time to rebut talk he was opposed to the SPCA, which is now operating the county’s animal shelter under a contractual agreement with the county.
“I never was personally against the SPCA, and I don’t really know as much as I should about Dixie Spay and Neuter,” Yarber said. “But, I’ve been told I was trying to take them both down and destroy them. [I was opposed to] having the duplication of services, and two separate entities.”
Sheriff-elect Eric Watson addressed the Commission, saying he was looking forward to working with it in his new role as the county’s chief law enforcement officer.
“I really feel like you are going to be happy with the program we’ve put together come Sept. 1,” Watson said. “It’s a very conservative package. The people of Bradley County are going to be very happy with it, and it stretches that penny.”
After the Commission session, the education committee met to discuss amendments to the school system budget that were questioned by the finance committee.
The amendment shows an increase of $40,000 in E-Rate funding revenues, which provide discounts of up to 90 percent to help eligible schools and libraries obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access.
An increase of $40,000 in technology is also listed in the amendment.
There were decreases of $80,000 for regular instruction textbooks, $60,000 for operation of plant-electricity/natural gas and $50,000 in student support services from an SLC (Smaller Learning Communities) grant.
A decrease of $140,000 in local sales tax revenue for the current fiscal year is also noted.
However, it was the decrease in textbooks and student support services that drew commissioners’ questions when there was also an increase for instructional staff support services of $50,000 also related to the SLC grant.
Committee Chairman Lowe said the system had gotten permission from the Federal Grant Administration to move the funds from the student support services, where there was an excess amount, down to staff support, to cover the salary of the person who is managing the program.
“It’s all within the grant and approved by the grantee,” Lowe said. “This was just a matter of housekeeping.”
The committee quickly gave its approval of the amendment.