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

Alexander Confident Betsy DeVos Will Win Senate Approval For Secretary Of Education

Senator Lamar Alexander spoke on the Senate floor about Betsy DeVos, the nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education. Senator Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate education committee, said, “Few Americans have done as much as Betsy DeVos has to help low-income children have a choice of a better school. The Democrats' opposition to her says more about ... (click for more)

Rep. Graves Says He Will Fight To Make Ban On Taxpayer-Funded Abortions Permanent

 Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) released the following statement after voting in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (H.R. 7), which makes the ban on taxpayer-funded abortions permanent and prohibits the federal government from subsidizing insurance plans that cover elective abortion:  “I stand with the millions of ... (click for more)

City Officials Should Tour Our Roads - And Response (2)

As we near the election in March, now would be a good time for our city officials who are up for re-election to spend a little time exploring their realm.   I would invite them to take a scenic tour starting at Lake Resort Drive paying attention to the portion of the road which was recently repaired which now appears to be sliding back towards the lake again.  Follow ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Puzzling Women

After Rhonda Thurman left the “Enlightment” meeting of the Hamilton Country School Board Saturday afternoon, she must have been catching up on the news when she posted this message on her Facebook page: “I am really trying to understand. I am a woman and I cannot think of one "RIGHT" I do not have. Can someone enlighten me?” Not one person enlightened Rhonda because nobody could ... (click for more)

Big McClendon Curtis Leads Central Past Hixson

Central coach Rick Rogers knew this would be a long season for his Purple Pounder basketball team after his top seven players graduated last year. He’s exactly right, but things are headed in the right direction for Rogers as his team improved to 5-10 overall and 3-6 in District 6-AA with a heart-stopping one-point win at Hixson Monday night. That’s two wins in a row and the ... (click for more)

Cleveland, Bradley Central No. 1 And No. 2 In State Wrestling Poll

Now in its 25th year, The Poll is primarily a measure of  dual meet strength  with some consideration to individual tournament strength.   Votes are cast by a state-wide panel of high school wrestling coaches and are based on a maximum Power Ranking of 100%.   STATE POLL:   RANK ... (click for more)