The Bradley County Commission held its regular voting session Monday afternoon.
Prior to voting on agenda items, Greg Dale of McBride, Dale and Clarion updated the commission with a power point presentation on the status of the county comprehensive plan. For the past five months, the Cities of Cleveland and Charleston and Bradley County have been working together to prepare comprehensive plans for their futures. Mr. Dale explained comprehensive plans are locally driven statements of policy that describe a community’s aspiration for itself. They are statements of intent that serve as the basis for supporting legal tools such as infrastructure plans, capital improvements plans, zoning codes, subdivision regulations and others. This comprehensive plan effort is actually an update to existing comprehensive plans (Bradley County Future Land Use Plan adopted in 2004; City of Cleveland Land Use Plan adopted in 1995).
This coordinated comprehensive planning process was called for in the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan as a growth coordination recommendation. The BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan was a planning process initiated in response to anticipated growth generated by the Volkswagen plant as well as other economic developments. Mr. Dale explained the plan was a point of reference which forecasts for planning purposes.
Commissioner Adam Lowe said, “Planning on going forward is going to take consensus.”
Commissioner Robert Rominger made a resolution accepting the highest and best bid from Blue Springs Baptist Church, Inc. in the amount of $40, 554.03 for the sale of approximately 6.39 acres of Bradley County property, formerly Blue Springs Blue Springs School, map and parcel number 080 019.00. The resolution passed unanimously, 13-0-1 absent.
Under new business, the following items passed unanimously:
-Final budget amendments, a recommendation from the Finance Committee, for revenue expenditures and special funds.
-Resolution authorizing environmental officer to advertise for bids for clean-up of property at 1000 Craigmiles Street.
-Resolution to adopt the 2012 updated Bradley County natural hazard mitigation plan.
A motion authorizing an investigation into any impropriety of the Planning Commission resulting from the Judith Allen rezoning request died from lack of a second.
Maker of the motion Commissioner Ed Elkins said, “There has been some concern based on current land use plan. This might be a moot point if it does comply with land use plan. It is appropriate with the Planning Commission to engage in communication with property owners. In view of considerable confusion and uncertainty, I’d like to defer this to another work session to get more information and bring back to full commission. I think it is the right thing to do to clear up uncertainty. I have no idea what the situation is and that is why we need to look onto it.”
Commissioner Connie Wilson asked if there were any Department heads that wished to address the commission concerning the 2012-2013 budget appeals.
Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth stated, “Lately my department has been seeing a lot less desirable people applying that can’t meet our requirements. We are losing a lot of good employees due to higher paying jobs in county. Pay raises in the future is the only way to get people and retain them. Another problem we’re facing is we had 69 correctional officers and I hired nine to bring it back up to 78. We were approved for 92 positions during Sheriff Gilley’s term. I’ve inherited this problem. The CTAS figure says 102 are needed in corrections. The problem with corrections in our jail is our greatest liability. In the future, something is going to have to be done. The liability is great there. I don’t want to second guess prior administrators.
"Also, our Integrated Crimes Against Children is not funded. With cooperation with the feds, we’ve arrested several predators through this program. It would have been a lot better if it was funded. I’m also trying to save on fuel within my department. I recently purchased six new Impalas that will give us 40 percent savings in fuel and I hope to buy more. I can’t continue to cut back on services like I did this last year.”
County Mayor D. Gary Davis said, “I appreciate the Sheriff’s Department understanding and the cooperation from all departments in resubmitting. It helped a lot. We’ve had another flat year. That’s four years in a row. Sheriff Ruth can’t help what was done in the past.”
A resolution approving additional funding for the current fiscal year of $173,745 to the Bradley County 911 Communications Center was pulled from the agenda. Commissioner Jeff Yarber said, “I believe this is a state issue. I don’t believe we should sit idle and not make noises. I do disagree. There is state obligation on some levels.”
Commissioner Adam Lowe said, “I agree that it is a state issue. The state’s intent is to have large regional call centers, ones that are consolidated. That is there intent. We need to be aware for what we signed up for. I hope they reconsider the platform on this.”
911 Communications Center Director Joe Wilson addressed the commission saying, “This is not a state problem. This is a local issue. I hope they raise rates on cell phones, but it’s not going make a difference. There is going to be a point and time when we’re going to run outta money.”
EMS Director Danny Lawson said, “Personally I know what 911 means to our agency. The last three months of call volumes have been higher than our first year of service. The only way to make up that much money is to cut positions or the commission is obligated to make up difference. The Cities of Cleveland and Charleston have come on board. I think this is very bad of the county commission. I feel the pressure that he (mR. Wilson) feels to provide the level of service and it’s going to reflect on our community. I think the people you represent want 911. You need to address what the cost is. It is very important that emergency calls answered timely. This is the last meeting where you could’ve had the opportunity to make a difference. We need to increase funding or decrease staffing. I don’t think they want to supplement the cost of agency dispatching. I don’t think you have a greater need than 911. This leaves us in a difficult position.”
The Bradley County Commission will hold its next work session meeting on Monday at 7 p.m.