Bradley County Commission Approves School Board Action On Liquor Tax Dispute

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - by Tony Eubank
Attorney James F. Logan addresses the Bradley County Commission
Attorney James F. Logan addresses the Bradley County Commission
- photo by Tony Eubank

The Bradley County commission on Monday night passed a measure to support the actions of the Bradley County Board of Education concerning the liquor by the drink tax debate. The county and the Bradley County school board both agree that the school system is owed half of the monies collected via the liquor by the drink tax.

Since the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland city school system dispute this claim, the commission has been cooperating with the Bradley School Board members in their plan to resolve the issue. The commissioners, having waived any conflict of interest with the Bradley school system, made it possible for Bradley schools to hire law firm of Logan-Thompson, P.C to represent them in negotiations with the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland City School Board over the estimated $700,000 that is possibly owed to them. Should negotiations fail; the Bradley County School Board will pursue further legal action.

Attorney Jim Logan updated the commissioners on the Bradley Schools system’s latest discussions on a county vote to approve liquor by the drink in the county at large, but that he didn’t believe that this would be effectual. Attorney Logan told the board that he felt that the school board resolution, which is up for a vote on Thursday, is the best course of action.  Attorney Logan said that even though the law does not set out in explicit terms how the tax funds should be distributed, that about 67% to 69% of children in Bradley County attend Bradley County schools. This includes a large number of students living within the Cleveland city limits. 

Commissioner Jeff Morelock questioned whether or not the commission needed to vote on this at all and expressed concerns that a possible lawsuit would be unpopular with the community at large.  Attorney Logan said the commission has a stake in the results, as it will influence future budgeting for the county. Attorney Logan also said that the legal action that would be taken is not intended to find wrong doing on the part of the city of Cleveland and to seek damages, but that they would in fact be seeking a ruling that would clarify what the best course of action would be. “We’re not asking the judge to say they’re wrong, we’re asking them to tell us how to do this,” said attorney Logan.

The commission voted unanimously to support the school board future actions and to give it the authority to act as the main agency, by a vote of 11-0, with commissioners Bill Ledford, Connie Wilson, and Adam Lowe being absent.

The Board also approved a resolution to support an amendment to state law allowing counties having a population between 98,900 to 99,000 to use monies collected in excess of one million dollars for purposes other than waste management.

The board also approved a motion to give retired k-9 handler, Deputy Johnny Stokes the dog that he handled, as it is time for the k-9 to be retired as well.

It was also announced that Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith has released a schedule for satellite property tax collection locations. The locations include Waterville, Oak Grove, and Hopewell elementary schools and the Bradley Square Mall. All of the locations will be open from 9 am until noon.

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