The Bradley County Commission session Monday was dominated by the continuing disagreement between 5th District Commissioner Jeff Yarber and 6th District Commissioner Mel Griffith over the county’s action or inaction over flooding problems.
Yarber had accused Griffith last week of not being proactive in his role as chairman of the road committee in addressing the problems.
Griffith reported to the Commission Monday the problems Yarber had mentioned at that time were being followed up on and the road committee would meet July 8 at 9 a.m.
“[The road department] is aware of the problem. They’ve been out to see what can be done,” Griffith said. “It’s in the system along with many other problems throughout the county. There’s nothing more the road committee can do right now. The road department’s handling it.”
That update did not satisfy Yarber.
“It’s not my concern whether it’s in the system or not, it’s whether anything has been done about it or not,” Yarber said. “I feel like within the last week I got stonewalled, and I don’t appreciate it.”
He noted various areas of flooding during the most recent major rain, last week, and had photographs showing yards full of water and some cases where the water had reached the height of a car’s bumper.
“Eight percent of my district is in the city and I understand that, but they pay county taxes also, so it is germane in my opinion to discuss it here,” he said.
He said the subject could not be passed over by just saying it was in the city.
“I guess we could just refund their tax dollars if we’re not given [city residents] representation,” he said.
Griffith said last week the road committee meeting in April “was to find out what the issues were, not to have them solved before you got there.”
Yarber said Monday he understood that point, but once he and his constituents arrived, “nobody knew we were coming with that issue.”
“[Road Superintendent] Tom Collins acted like he was surprised. I asked Mr. Griffith, as chairman of the road committee, ‘Do I need to bring stuff in and give it to the road department to get issues on there?’” Yarber said. “He said that was probably the good thing to do ... start handing it off to the road superintendent, versus going though the road committee.”
He said he could not understand why there could not be a road committee meeting unless the road superintendent is present.
“We have several law enforcement committee meetings and the sheriff’s not there,” Yarber said. “I’ve been on this Commission 12 years and the only committee that seems to require the [supervisor] to be there is the road committee.”
Griffith said the purpose of the road committee is to provide advice to the road superintendent.
“We have no power over what [the superintendent] does,” he said. “It wouldn’t make much sense to have a meeting to advise him if he’s not there to hear it.”
Yarber restated his example of the law enforcement committee to which Griffith responded, “Well, that’s the law enforcement committee.”
“We need the road committee chairman to do something,” Yarber said.
“We don’t need to get personal,” interjected Commission Chairman Louis Alford.
After mentioning several areas that are facing the flooding problems, Yarber said the road committee was just “blowing it off” by ignoring legitimate concerns.
“At least act like you’re doing something,” he said. “Give these people who are paying tax dollars something for their money. Until I get somebody else who is interested in this stuff, every week I’ll go over all these individual things, until we get so sick and tired of hearing about them that somebody will say, ‘Just to shut him up, let’s do something.’”
Griffith tried to get in the last comment when later in the meeting the motion was made to form the ad hoc committee on septic tank permit procedures.
Yarber voted against it, saying the issue had already been discussed in the past.
“We had this same discussion four years ago, and I believe they’re going to need money to do it. I don’t think anything is going to change,” Yarber said. “I don’t know why we’re revisiting an issue that will come back to us and once again we’re going to say we can’t afford to do it.”
“I thought Mr. Yarber just told us we need to be discussing the issues over and over,” Griffith responded.
“I guess we need to form an ad hoc committee to make Mr. Griffith to do his job,” Yarber said.