Bradley County School Board Votes To Hire Attorney To Help Seek Liquor Tax Revenues From The City Of Cleveland

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - by Tony Eubank
Attorney Jim Logan
Attorney Jim Logan
- photo by Tony Eubank

The Bradley County School Board on Wednesday approved a measure to secure the services of county litigation counsel James F. Logan and the Logan-Thompson law firm in order to work out an arrangement with the city of Cleveland in tax revenue for hundreds of thousands of dollars allegedly owed to the Bradley County Schools. 

Attorney Logan was retained at the suggestion of the Bradley County Commission and by doing so has waived any conflict of interest that currently or may exist with the commission. He presented to the board a resolution that asks the city of Cleveland to negotiate a plan in which the Bradley County school system would receive the monies owed to them via the Title 57 statute.

Title 57 states that the revenue collected from the liquor by the drink tax in each municipality (county, city, town, etc) must be split 50/50 between the general fund for that local government and the schools that lie within that municipality. Questions have arisen statewide as to whether or not these funds have been dispersed properly or at all in various cities and counties. 

Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel had previously stated that the city of Cleveland had disbursed the funds properly and that no money was owed, a fact that attorney Logan quickly refuted. He also outlined the huge increase in liquor tax collected in Bradley County since liquor by the drink sales were expanded beyond private clubs in 2002, citing a report that showed that since that time the revenue has increased from about $24,000 to about $1.9 million.

Attorney Logan went on to outline the “Maryville Opinion”, which states that there is no statute of limitations between governmental bodies; therefore it is within bounds for the Bradley County Board of Education to pursue the tax revenue that he said it is owed. 

While the Cleveland City Council has decided to wait for the state legislature to make a final decision on how the money should be disbursed, attorney Logan said it would be to both the city and county governments’ advantage to settle the issue between themselves, “The issue of how the legislature might address the distribution of the liquor tax (revenue) to education could impact any claims made after the legislature passes, but if a claim is made before the change in the law they cannot make it retro active,” he said.

Under the understanding that not only is the Bradley School system owed approximately $100,000, but that acting now could preserve a degree of local autonomy and possibly save both Bradley County and the city of Cleveland some money and difficulty in the future, the Bradley County board was eager to pass the resolution, as members said they have the full support of the County Commission.  

School Board member Troy Weathers quickly moved to approve the resolution, Board Chair Vicki Osment Beaty followed with a second. Board member Chris Turner took issue with the language of the resolution, saying that he felt it was worded in a way that he felt could be misconstrued as adversarial. Mr. Weathers disagreed, and did not think that any more time needed to be spent quibbling over wording. After much cautioning from Mr. Turner over the language of the resolution and the importance of maintaining a spirit of cooperation between the local governing bodies, board member Christy Critchfield requested an amendment to the resolution that would require the board’s executive committee to meet with the Cleveland City Council in order to hash out the details before any official legal action is taken. 

Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel said, “In part what we are doing here today is to establish our position is that we believe according to the law that Bradley County Schools and the children of Bradley County are due that money.”

The resolution passed by a vote of 5 to 1 with Mr. Turner casting the lone dissenting vote over what he felt was a lack of clarity in the resolution’s language. Vice-Chair Nicholas Lillios was absent.

School Board member Christy Critchfield and Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel
School Board member Christy Critchfield and Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel
- Photo2 by Tony Eubank

Bank Again Trying To Unload Dilapidated, Once-Stately Signal Mountain Home Still Valued At $303,400 By Assessor’s Office

To quote Yogi Berra, this week must feel like “déjà vu all over again” to Cleveland Realtor Hank Wilson.   Last Thursday, Mr. Wilson learned that Deutsch Bank – which owns the once-stately, spacious 4-bedroom house at 17 Middle Creek in Signal Mountain – had rejected a $167,000 bid on the property on the online auction site Hubzu. At that time, real estate site ... (click for more)

Teenager Shot In Drive-By Shooting On West 38th Street

Javier Lansden, 18, was shot early Sunday morning on West 38th Street. At approximately  2:47 a.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 264 Water Street for a person shot.  Officers found that the shooting occurred at 263 West 38 th  Street.  The victim stated he was sitting on his bicycle at 263 West 38 th  Street, when a dark-colored ... (click for more)

How To Be #ChattanoogaStrong

Chattanooga is my home; I was born here 35 years ago. Without a doubt, this has been one of the most challenging times in our city's history. The #ChattanoogaStrong hashtag will remain for quite some time, but it means so much more than 18 characters on social media. It represents the sorrow and mourning, as well as the resilience and compassion, of our exceptional community.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Navy Denies Any Charges

UPDATE: A spokesman for the U.S. Navy on Sunday denied reports that disciplinary charges will be filed against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White for discharging an unauthorized weapon on federal property.   According to a post of Facebook and other social media sites, a statement reads, “Stories of Navy personnel being charges with an offense are not true. There is still a long way ... (click for more)

CFC Returns To National Championship With 3-0 Semifinal Win

The Chattanooga Football Club didn't score until the 69th minute but after Chris Ochieng's first goal, they would score two more to earn a 3-0 win over visiting Indiana Fire.   The NPSL national semifinal win, before more than 9,200 fans, gives Chattanooga another shot at a national championship after losing to the New York Red Bulls U23 team in the 2014 final.   ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Chattanooga FC Shuts Out Indiana By 3-Nil