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

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BABBS, JULIAN  6505 BALLARD DR CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 18 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY --- BABCOCK, JEREMY RAY  1134 SHADY FORK RD CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 36 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County POSSESSION OF METHAMPHETAMINE ... (click for more)

Attorney General Says Bradley County Does Not Have To Share Proceeds From Hotel/Motel Tax With Municipalities

The state attorney general's office has ruled that Bradley County government is not required to share proceeds of the hotel/motel tax with municipalities within the county. The ruling says the law states that 25 percent goes to general government, 25 percent to tourism, 25 percent to industrial recruitment and 25 percent to the agri-business center (or to general government). ... (click for more)

What Our Schools Are And Have Been Doing About Bullying

Bullying has been a widely discussed topic during the last few weeks in the wake of the incident involving the Ooltewah High basketball team.  Contrary to public opinion, Hamilton County Schools have not been passive in our efforts to address bullying now or for the past several years.  Unfortunately, bullying is a societal norm that is infiltrating our school community, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Warmth For Cold Days

I come across all sorts of warm things every day and as we burrow out of sub-freezing temperatures for a day or two, shaking off ice and snow, allow me to share a few things for a change that may take the bite out of the winter wind. This is what helps me. * * * Judy Bellenfant, who has been a soul mate ever since we shared jokes in high school classrooms, sends along this ... (click for more)

District 5-3A Hoops Haunted By The Owls' Absence

ATHENS, Tenn. – District 5-3A basketball coaches gathered here on Wednesday to set up brackets and choose regular season All-District teams. In terms of all-district selections, the coaches did that fairly simple matter of voting and tabulating the numbers in short order. Bradley Central swept the top player honors when Cole Copeland and Rhyne Howard were selected to the ... (click for more)

Red Bank Picked To Win Region 2-A/AA Wrestling

It appears that the Red Bank Lions will be the target for teams involved in the Region 2-A/AA wrestling tournament being held at Hixson Middle School this weekend. The Lions, fresh off Saturday's A-AA State Duals title, are the early favorites for the upcoming tournament after claiming six number-one seeds in the 14 weight classes during the seeding meeting held Wednesday at ... (click for more)