CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The perception that Cleveland and Bradley County governments don't get along is not the reality, members of the City Council and County Commission attending a luncheon together said Wednesday.
Citing the industrial and business locations here, Councilman David May told the others "not working together, we've done pretty well. ... At the end of the day, whatever we have to do, we will do."
Eight of 14 county commissioners and all City Council members attended the Dutch treat luncheon. Some absent commissioners were away on business and one was having surgery.
"There's hardly anything we do now that's not together," County Mayor D. Gary Davis said as each attendee took turns commenting. "We need to say it more often because that's not the perception on the street."
The two sides can, and should, argue from time to time, Davis said, "but in the end, we work together."
"Whirlpool let us know every quickly, 'We don't look at you as a city government or a county government but as the local government,'" Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said.
A recent compromise on funding road improvements around the new Whirlpool plant was pointed to by some as an example of cooperation.
Rowland is giving his 19th State of the City address today before the Cleveland Kiwanis Club. Davis gave his State of the County address last week.
Davis said the two speeches will sound a lot alike because the city and county are working together.
"I want to work with you," Commissioner Adam Lowe said to his city colleagues.
But there are issues between the two, some others acknowledged, including the pending court ruling on sharing sales tax revenue.
"What brought some of this to a head is the revenue shortfall," said Commissioner Ed Elkins.
"I would like to have more of these joint meetings and just say what's on your mind," Elkins said.
Councilman Richard Banks said both sides "have the utmost duty to provide an education to our children." So, he asked the county members, what happens if a proposed wheel tax for schools fails in a referendum?
"We will still have to build some schools," Banks said.
Councilman Bill Estes and Commissioner Jeff Morelock agreed that next time they should have a specific issue on the agenda.
The leaders said they will invite both local school boards next time to do just that.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...