The Cleveland City Council, at a meeting Monday afternoon set a new certified tax rate, then raised the property tax rate by just over 18 cents.
Officials said, even with the higher tax rate, that Cleveland has "the lowest property tax rate of any city in Tennessee with a K-12 school system."
They said it was the first city tax increase since 2005.
The previous tax rate was $1.49 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The 2013 state certified rate of $1.5804 was approved. The council then voted to exceed this rate for the year 2013-2014. The property tax and special franchise privilege rate was set at $1.7655 on each $100 of assessed value.
Meanwhile, the Bradley County Commission will vote Aug. 5 on a seven-cent tax increase for a $14 million project at Lake Forest Middle School.
The county is also considering a workhouse proposal.
In other new business at the City Council, the zoning ordinance was amended to allow the continuation of residential uses within an industrial zone under appropriate circumstances. The original zoning allowed single-family residential development in industrial areas when Cleveland had a pyramid zoning structure that allowed the non-conforming uses. After decades of change and relocation of industries there is a need to redevelop within such areas. This ordinance will allow new houses as well as repairs to a building that has lost 50 percent of its value due to fire or other damage.
The council also amended the definition of townhouse dwelling to allow for the construction of two-unit townhouses. Each unit must have its own front and rear entrance and each unit must be separated by firewalls, and have its own deed.
The city ordinance concerning historical preservation was amended to read that four members of the commission will constitute a quorum of the Cleveland Historical Preservation Commission. A motion will pass if the majority of the quorum that is present and voting provides an affirmative vote.
Rezoning was given approval for three properties. A lot at 775 Gaut Street, NE was changed from IH to R3. Six and three fourths acres at 4025 Georgetown Road, NW changed from R1 to CG, and Candies Creek Crossing on Georgetown Road was rezoned from CG to CH.
The City Council voted on agreements relating to five government grants. The council agreed to provide Bradley County $18,288 from the 2013 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, to be used for a computer up-grade program. Mayor Tom Rowland was given authorization to sign contracts with TDOT for the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant for $150,000 that comes as a 50/50 match with the city responsible for $75,000. A second grant contract for $620,000 with TDOT will be used for the Greenway extension of Tinsley Park to Blythe Ferry Road. This award comes with an 80/20 match. The council also gave approval to apply for a grant to fund irrigation at Tinsley Park for $30,000 which is also an 80/20 match.
A donation of property from the Church of God has been made to the city to be used for a restroom adjacent to the Greenway. The city council voted to accept the gift and extended its appreciation.
The number of members on the Animal Shelter Advisory Board was reduced from seven to five because there is no longer an animal control service contract between the city and Bradley County.
The council members voted unanimously to support two resolutions from the Tennessee Municipal League. Congress has proposed reducing or eliminating the tax exemption on municipal bond interest as one option for reducing the federal deficit. Municipalities benefit from this tax exemption through substantial savings of the interest on borrowed money. The decision was unanimous to approve a resolution in opposition to this proposal. A letter will be written to Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and the Tennessee delegation to the U.S. House Representatives to urge them to oppose the efforts by congress to change this exemption. They will also be encouraged to level the playing the field for brick and mortar retailers, by allowing states to collect sales taxes from online retailers.
In individual reports from the council members, many relayed complaints from their constituents about the appearance of certain areas in the city limits that need attention. Complaints were heard about waist high grass that needs cutting at Creek Bend, on APD 40 and at the airport. The excessive rain in the area is to blame they were told, which has upset schedules of the public works department of Cleveland, as well as for TDOT and Bradley County departments that are all facing the same issues. Flooding has been reported to the council and help requested at Cary Street off of Mouse Creed Road which is a low lying area and at a home on Everhart Road where a catch basin has now been built. Another citizen complained that overgrowth from the Interstate is invading his yard, for which TDOT should be responsible. Officials with the city will contact TDOT and Bradley County and ask that they take care of places that are their responsibility.
Mayor Rowland introduced Tim Passmore to the council, who is the new president and CEO of Cleveland Utilities. He was praised and it was stated that the council would support him in his new position. The mayor also swore in two new police officers, Officer Joe Musselwhite and Chad Nave.