Cleveland, Bradley County Panels Upset About Cleveland Utilities Rate Increases

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 - by Gail Perry

Bradley County and the city of Cleveland are in agreement about increased rates that have been requested by the Cleveland Utilities. A lot of customers are not in the city limits of Cleveland and cannot vote there. Commissioner Milan Blake at the Bradley County Commission meeting Monday afternoon said that people who do not live in the city have no member on the board or representative on the Cleveland Utilities board. People in the county pay taxes on the services but have no representative, said Commissioner Dan Rawls.

It sounds like taxation without representation, he said.

 

Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber said that the increases are a result of a study of people in areas surrounding Bradley County. He said the utilities also would like to add an increase from TVA. A utility is a monopoly, he said and the only other choice people have is to buy a generator. He asked for the county to reject the rate increase and suggested asking Cleveland to do the same. He also made a motion to request having a board member appointed from Bradley County.

 

Commissioner Charlotte Peak asked the County Commission to deny specifically, the increases for stormwater runoff. Last week, she said, the state-mandated stormwater policy was defeated, so now the county will not have standards more stringent than what is required by the federal government. This would be good for both the county and for the homebuilders, she said. Ms. Peak addressed the Cleveland City Council later that day with the same request and questions of how homebuilders could off-set the substantial rate increases that would threaten to increase development costs.  Growth is what drives the city, said Ms. Peak, and suggested that the city join the county in opposition to the Cleveland Utilities proposal.

 

The Cleveland City Council voted to change the effective date from April 19 to Oct. 31, 2016, to put the requirements in place. This will remove the mandate for developers to capture one inch of runoff from their site, it was stated.

 

In a prior vote, the county approved a new 911 contract. The city of Cleveland joined the county on Monday in approval of this contract which is made on a 50/50 basis. It will increase appropriations to 911 by $100,000 for each of the next two years.

 

County Mayor B. Gary Davis reported that reports needed by the commissioners can now be mailed on a monthly basis, or can be transmitted electronically, in particular the financial reports including complete expenditures account analysis. Chairman of the IT Committee Bill Winters said the committee is looking for ways to make sure that what is needed is there when it is needed. Technology can help, he said, but many of the commissioners asked that the reports still come in a printed form since the large reports are difficult to read on an IPhone screen.

 

Commissioner Terry Caywood announced that the Highway 60 expansion has now been approved for funding in 2019. Updates should be coming in May, he said.

 

County Mayor Davis invited the director of the Tri State Exhibition Center to make a presentation to the commissioners to make them aware of what is happening there. They were told that it was built to be a multi-use facility for use with various animal shows. There are 11 buildings, the largest being two acres under cover used for horse shows. It will host 44 events this year, some multi-days. The Chattanooga Kennel club has moved its dog shows from Camp Jordan Arena in East Ridge to the Tri State Exhibition Center this year and a song writer music festival will be held, which is a collaboration of songwriters helping veterans tell their stories. A therapeutic riding program is also held at the center, with over 200 riding lessons given each year. This facility has an economic impact by attracting out of town people who stay in hotels, shop and eat in restaurants. It has been calculated that the exhibition center has a three quarter to $1 million impact on Bradley County each year.

 


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