County settles 2 big issues in 2012
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Dec 28, 2012 | 1159 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two major issues — the establishment of an industrial park and sales tax litigation — were finally settled this year for the Bradley County Commission.

On Dec. 3, the Commission approved a memorandum of agreement with the Industrial Development Board, the city of Cleveland and Cleveland Utilities. The agreement approves purchasing the property for the project and outlines how the purchase will be financed.

Some commissioners expressed concern at the time of the vote as to where the additional funding needed for infrastructure would come from. Before the vote, Doug Berry, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce vice president for Economic Development, explained the plan was to develop the park a little at a time using revenue from selling the land to develop future infrastructure.

The project will be financed through the city of Cleveland with each government entity contributing $2 million to the project.

Sales tax litigation between the county and the city came to a close this year. The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the validity of the 1967 sales tax agreement between the city of Cleveland and Bradley County. (See related story, Page 1.)

In an effort to find a way to fund four major capital projects for the school system, the Bradley County Commission sent a wheel tax to referendum. Commissioners emphasized they wanted the voters to decide whether the tax would be implemented or not. Residents voted against the $32 wheel tax, and the Commission offered no alternative for funding the projects.

Bids for construction of the three fire stations were approved by the Commission this year as the county moves toward operating Bradley County Fire-Rescue independent of a contract with the city. The county was also approved for a hazard mitigation grant, which will reimburse the county for some of the construction costs. The grant requires a portion of the structure to meet safe room guidelines. In a meeting with the Bradley County Fire Board, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said this would give the county three places where residents could go in inclement weather such as a tornado.

The Commission also approved two payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements in 2012. One was with The Gillette Company/P&G Duracell in light of the company’s announcement of a $36 million expansion of the Bradley County facility. The Commission approved allowing the company to pay 50 percent of the property taxes which would have been due. The other was for Mars Chocolate North America. The Mars agreement was that the company would only be required to pay 50 percent of the personal property taxes for two new lines that were installed this year. According to previously published reports, the lines will be used to manufacture M&Ms and Twix products.

“The best news of 2012 in Bradley County is the growth in existing industries,” Commission Chairman Louie Alford said.

In addition to local expansion at Duracell and Mars Chocolate North America, Whirlpool and Wacker Chemical North America also announced expansions.

Also during the year, the Commission approved opening the Bradley County Farmers Market North. The market was open Monday through Saturday during the harvest season.