Bradley Commission Tables Resolution Regarding Claim Against Liquor Tax Funds

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - by Tony Eubank

The Bradley County Commission on Tuesday decided to table a resolution to back the Bradley County School Board in its claim for unpaid liquor tax revenues from the city of Cleveland.

The matter was passed until the next work session so that a proper discussion of the legalities can take place.

Commissioner Jeff Yarber made a motion to back the Bradley County School Board's action in seeking payment of as much as $720,000 that it claims it is owed under 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.

The motion to table was then substituted.

Bradley County School Board members believe the schools are owed half of this, a claim that has been refuted by both the Cleveland City Council and Cleveland City Schools. 

l Tea Party chief Dan Rawls asked the commission if any other county has taken this to litigation and won, as well as where would the money come from to pay for the effort to get the funds.

Commission Vice-Chairman Adam Lowe stated that if the school board chooses to go through with litigation that it would have to take on those costs. He also said that the county itself may end up being the proper party or an indispensable party in a court proceeding. In the case of the latter, the costs to the county would be minimal. 

County Attorney Crystal R. Freiberg said, “The only reason we are still involved is because there is a legal question as to whose claim it is. Is it Bradley County’s claim or is it the schools?”

Commissioner Terry Caywood asked Ms. Freiberg if there have been any similar cases taken to court, where the county has won. Ms. Freiberg replied that this issue is fairly new since the discrepancy had been just been brought to light and that as far as she knows there have been no lawsuits over it yet. 

Ms. Freiberg, musing that it is just a matter of time before it does come to litigation, said, “This will be litigated somewhere in the state.”

The Commission also approved measures to form a research committee to look into speed limits on county-maintained roads and to delay the appointment to two commissioners to the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) of Bradley County board.

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