published Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Cleveland, Bradley leaders meet Wednesday

Bill Estes of the Cleveland City Council
Bill Estes of the Cleveland City Council

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland and Bradley County leaders are set to discuss education and flood risk management at the Mountain View Inn at noon Wednesday.

City leaders have identified the need for a new elementary school in North Cleveland and an Army Corps of Engineers' flood study as crucial projects requiring partnerships with their county counterparts. However, joint ventures are in jeopardy in light of litigation on the division of sales tax revenues between the two.

"One, we need to have a meeting with [county leaders]; two, the lawsuit needs to be settled, and the dust settled," Cleveland City Councilman Bill Estes said in a recent meeting.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals in Knoxville recently heard arguments in the suit. A decision might be reached by January, City Attorney John Kimball told Cleveland councilmen recently.

A victory for the city could mean the loss of several million dollars for the county and affect its ability to provide services or fund joint ventures with the city, said Louie Alford, chairman of the Bradley County Commission.

The commission passed a resolution stating the county's intent to withdraw from major funding partnerships with the city "due to a potential loss of sales tax revenue."

City leaders have invited Cleveland City Schools officials to address the meeting on student overcrowding.

Current enrollment growth will be compounded by proposed townhome and apartment developments in North Cleveland, said Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of the city school system.

A proposed county wheel tax, which failed in an August referendum, was intended to fund borrowing power for the schools. City leaders say they need to press the county for a "Plan B" to fund such needs.

City leaders also would like the county to engage the Army Corps of Engineers to perform a flood risk management study on creek basins outside the city limits, calling for a comprehensive plan to reduce stormwater problems.

A number of council members have said that the city's own flood study -- a $525,000 investment -- is of limited value without a similar study for county creek basins.

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