Morelock suggests a county tax hike
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
May 29, 2013 | 850 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Action slated to fund LFMS
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A solution to funding issues for the renovation of Lake Forest Middle School was proposed at the work session of the Bradley County Commission Tuesday.

Third District Commissioner Jeff Morelock placed a resolution on the agenda that if passed would approve up to an 8-cent property tax increase to fund the construction of a new academic building and to renovate the cafeteria and other buildings.

“I don’t know how far I’m going to get with this, but I feel like it’s time to bring it up,” Morelock said. “I feel like it’s time to stop talking and do something about Lake Forest.”

Morelock said the tax increase would bring in the needed money in the next year to give the county the necessary revenue to borrow the funding needed based on the $14 million estimate.

“Vote it up or down or amend it,” Morelock said.

Fourth District Commissioner J. Adam Lowe said he would want to have some time to review the mayor’s budget proposal before considering a tax increase.

Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis will present his budget proposal at the next meeting of the Commission.

Lowe recommended waiting on considering a proposal of a tax increase until after reviewing the budget proposal.

The issue was placed on the agenda for the next meeting which will be the first Monday in June.

Davis said the motion would not affect anything in the current budget proposal. Lowe said it is the revenue projections he is most interested in.

“You all have a month to raise taxes if you decide to do that,” Davis said.

Serious consideration for fixing leaking issues and other problems with the layout of the school began more than two years ago when members of the Commission toured the school campus and looked a problem areas. Originally, a property tax increase was not seen as an option for funding the project.

During communication from the audience, resident Dan Rawls expressed disappointment at the school system for not providing financial documents he had requested.

“This is public information. This is our tax dollars. I don’t care if it comes from local or state, it’s still our tax money,” Rawls said. “I realize this is something that you (Bradley County Commission) wouldn’t have any direct control over, but I want it to be known that the active stonewalling will not be effective. I will get the information.”

Rawls has asked for monthly financial statements from the school system, particularly those involving travel expenses recently discussed for the energy management supervisor.

Rawls said the Bradley County Board of Education, as elected officials, have to answer to the public and should provide the information. He said opposition from the school system to providing the documents makes him suspicious that elements of the finances may not be as they should be.

Rawls said some of the documents he wanted were provided by a school board member.

He expressed concern that the Bradley County School board was not more responsible to the Commission for financial decisions.

“I don’t know how many of you go to school board meetings, but maybe some of you need to attend,” Rawls said.

Bradley County Schools presented its 2013-14 budget proposal at the May 20 meeting of the Commission.

Two resolutions pertaining to the animal control contract were also placed on the agenda for the voting session.

One option would use audited numbers on county animals served at the shelter from last year to determine the cost to the county. This could save the county $92,000.

The other, coming as a recommendation from the finance committee, would eliminate animal pickup outside of the city limits. This is estimated to cost more than $200,000.

The Cleveland City Council passed a resolution stating it would agree to using audited numbers from the previous fiscal year during a voting session Tuesday.

Commission chairman Louie Alford said the Commission also has to reappoint its representatives to the Animal Shelter Board. Alford suggested a commissioner be one of the representatives.