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Bradley County Commission Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber, left, Commission Chairman Louie Alford and Commissioner Charlotte Peak listen to discussions concerning animal pickup proposals.
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Bradley County Commissioner Charlotte Peak, left, listens as Commissioner Howard Thompson expresses opposition to a proposed adoption of new building codes by the county. His opposition was based on negative feedback received from his constituents, not his own feelings, he said.
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Dan Rawls
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Eric Watson
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County commissioners got their first look Monday night at a proposed policy for disposing of unneeded property, but won't vote on it for another two weeks.

Some commissioners said the county needed to tighten rules for selling off unneeded property after criticizing the sheriff's disposal of the county's surveillance van in early February.

Others said the proposed rules are "micromanaging" county elected officials.

The new rules say the commission must OK the sale of any asset valued at more than $500 at purchase, down from $1,000. County elected officials must get commission approval for the method of disposal and include a competitive bidding process.

A new rule mandates that any electronic equipment with memory, from computers to cellphones, also must have special permission for disposal. Commissioner Dan Rawls cited Sheriff Eric Watson's recent sale of an Apple computer, saying the commission had no evidence that whatever was on that law enforcement computer had been removed before it was sold.

The changes also include a requirement that any county official wishing to dispose of vehicles must file a form for each. The form will include purchase date and price, VIN number, department using the vehicle and sale price.

Commissioners were unhappy that Sheriff Eric Watson sold the surveillance van for $20,000 to a Nashville bail bondsman. Watson said the vehicle and its electronics were obsolete, but some commissioners disputed that and produced paperwork in support that the sheriff claimed didn't exist.

Commissioners also discovered Watson had sold some vehicles at auction before getting the OK to do so.

A commission ad hoc committee approved the new rules Wednesday and Rawls tried to get them on the agenda for a vote Monday night, and to lift the moratorium on asset disposal imposed during the rule-making process. He said the additions to the county's existing purchase policy were just "tweaking" the rules to make them more functional.

Commissioners Charlotte Peak and Howard Thompson objected. Peak said she hadn't had a chance to read the proposed changes, and Thompson said the commission was "micromanaging" experienced elected officials who know how to do their jobs.

"That's what they're elected for," Thompson said. "If people don't like the job they do, vote them out."

The commission voted 12-2 to keep the moratorium in place until the new policy can be placed on the agenda for a vote in two weeks.

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416.

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