Bradley County officials to vote on property tax hike

Bradley County officials to vote on property tax hike

June 2nd, 2013 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Bradley County Commissioner Jeff Morelock

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POLL: Do you support increasing property taxes?

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Bradley County Commission plans to address several issues Monday, including funding options for Lake Forest Middle School renovations and animal control services.

At the top of the voting agenda is an 8-cent property tax increase intended to fund a $14 million overhaul of the 37-year-old middle school.

"You can vote it up or down, or amend it or make a substitute motion as you see fit," said Commissioner Jeff Morelock, the measure's sponsor.

Morelock said he welcomed discussion of any concerns, including possible cost-cutting for that project and other county expenses.

Plans call for a central building to replace more than half the 17 existing classroom pods. The project, which includes a geothermal field, is expected to save energy and avoid more than $6 million in needed repairs.

Commissioners also are expected to vote whether to request a financial commitment from Bradley County Schools for the makeover.

Some commissioners have asked if the school system is willing to contribute money saved on energy costs to the project, but school board members Troy Weathers and Christy Critchfield recently told the Bradley County Finance Committee that any savings will be needed for other purposes.

Another agenda item is a resolution to change the terms of the county's animal control contract with Cleveland Animal Shelter.

Now the county pays part of the shelter's budget based on the estimated percentage of animals taken in from outside the city limits. Under those criteria the county would owe $355,000, which is 56.2 percent of the projected 2013-14 budget.

City leaders like the formula and would like to lock it in for three years.

But Commissioner Jeff Yarber has recommended using audited animal control budget figures instead of projected numbers. Using those numbers, Yarber said the county's cost would be $298,000 in 2013-14.

Commissioner Ed Elkins placed another option on the agenda: Using audited numbers and eliminating animal pickup services outside the city would reduce county costs to $167,000.

Whatever commissioners decide, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis told them that they should strongly consider applying a three-year term to the agreement.

The Bradley County Commission meets Monday at 7 p.m. at the Bradley County Courthouse.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.