Bradley County Commission to develop financial plan

Bradley County Commission to develop financial plan

January 22nd, 2012 Paul Leach/Correspondent in News

Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins, chairman of the redistricting committee

WHAT'S NEXT


The Bradley County Commission will meet in a work session at 7 p.m. Monday at the Bradley County Courthouse.

POLL: Should Bradley County have a wheel tax?

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Bradley County Commission has agreed to develop comprehensive long-range financial plans for fiscal 2013-18.

Commissioners voted 10-3 last week to approve most of a fiscal guideline package presented by Commissioner Ed Elkins.

However, the modified resolution left out a major requirement of Elkins' strategic ground rules: The six-year plan must be completed before a recently proposed $32 wheel tax can be put before voters in a referendum. The wheel tax would be assessed each time a vehicle is registered in the county.

Elkins' resolution stated that Bradley County citizens "deserve to be adequately informed of a complete and comprehensive outlook" of the county's financial needs before voting on a wheel tax.

"We have to make some short-term decisions on what we're going to do about the wheel tax and short-term needs, but we need to do that with a view toward what our long-term needs are," he said.

The commission is reviewing the details of a proposed wheel tax, which is intended to fund capital school projects costing up to $38 million. Current plans call for wheel tax to be placed on the August 2012 ballot, but commissioners haven't settled on the referendum's language or even whether to place it on the ballot.

Commissioner Adam Lowe opposed creating the plan before preparing a wheel tax for referendum.

"We need to start working on a long-range plan that won't stymie the opportunity for the public to actually give voice to what the real needs are," he said.

Until the public votes for a wheel tax, Lowe said, it is "hypothetical" and should not be included in any strategic planning.

Commissioner Jeff Yarber said the wheel tax and long-range financial plan "are two separate issues, and we're on a timeframe for the wheel tax."

To ensure the wheel tax makes the deadline for the August ballot, commissioners previously discussed the need to finalize a draft of the tax resolution before June.

Yarber said he thought that putting the financial forecasting before the wheel tax would prevent it from making it to the voters by August.

The commission earlier requested that its Finance Committee review technical details on the generation and application of wheel tax revenues for capital school projects.

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