18-Cent Property Tax Hike On Its Way In Cleveland; City Will Not Accept Stray County Animals

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - by Sarah Ruf

The Cleveland City Council approved the proposed 2014 budget Monday, essentially guaranteeing a 18.5-cent property tax increase for the upcoming fiscal year.

Nearly half of that increase will pay for maintaining and adding police and fire officers to their respective forces. The city will add six new police officers.

“I think that’s money well spent to make sure people are safe in their homes,” said Councilman Richard Banks, in favor of the budget.

The council voted 6-1 to pass the budget. Councilman Charlie McKenzie voted no in opposition to the tax increase.

The debate continued regarding Bradley County’s decision to modify its animal control contract with the city.

The council rejected the proposed three-year contract from Bradley County to accept animals into its city shelter while eliminating the county’s vehicle-related expenses.

Councilman Banks motioned to send back a new proposal offering a one-year contract, with the amount of animals assisted to be determined based the previous year’s audited numbers.

That measure failed 3-4.

Now the county will stop its pickup service after July 1, and the city shelter will not be able to accept animals from the county. Rescuers will have to provide proof they are city residents or that the animal was found in the city.

“We are really messing up our goal of a no-kill shelter. It’s a shame,” Mayor Tom Rowland said. “It’s a sad day for animals in our community.”

“It could be a good day for animals if Bradley County steps up and does what they are supposed to do,” Councilman Bill Estes said.

The council also voted 5-1 to rescind their two-week-old approval of a bid by BB&T after some confusion with the language of the bid and listening to representatives from BB&T and Bank of Cleveland. 

Commissioners discussed the options of locking in an interest rate for the whole year or one adjusted more frequently.

“This doesn’t smell right, it doesn’t sound right,“ Councilman Estes said before he voted no.  Speculating on what interest rates will be in a year is like navel-gazing, he said.

Councilman McKenzie abstained from the vote.

All four original bank bidders will come to the June 26 meeting to present their bids once more.

City Attorney John Kimball told the commission he recommended staying with the already-approved contract with BB&T, keeping in mind a 90-day clause available to use if the council wanted to readjust interest rates in the next few months.

In other news, Mayor Rowland suggested it is time for an audit of the two cable providers in the city, ATT and Charter.

The next council meeting will be June 17 at 3 p.m.

You can reach Sarah Ruf at sarahruf@yahoo.com.

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