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County Looks to Possible Charter Government
by Ashley Murphy

September 27, 2011

The Bradley County Commission has decided to look into making itself a charter government. Gary Hayes of CTAS (County Technical Assistance Service) was on hand for the work session to explain some of the technicalities. He started off by saying that not much is known about charter government in Tennessee, because only 2 counties currently have this form; Shelby County and Knox County.

When asked about the city side of it, Hayes replied that in order for cities to exist, they must run off a charter government. However, counties don't require it. Counties receive their authority from the Tennessee Constitution. In addition, if the county were to take on a charter government, the power would have no effect on the City of Cleveland or Charleston. The actions can only affect Bradley County. This would mean that the merging of services, such as emergency services, law enforcement services and the court system, could not be merged.

In order for a county to become a charter government, there are several steps which can be chosen to succeed. The first would require a resolution passed by the current commission to establish a charter or by referendum determined by voters.

Hayes said there are several uncertainties and that it would be a learning experience. But he made sure to leave an informative packet for the commission to study before going any further with the charter idea.

Diana Stanich came to speak before the commission to give her take on the "world recession" and what the local governments are doing to help it citizens save money. According to Stanich, however, the local governments have been no help at all. She gave a list of examples to outline her theory for the county and city governments spending beyond their means and taking the tax payers down with them.

Some examples include the BCC 2035 Growth Plan. She said everyone is agreeing to big projects and funding for the future, even with know way of knowing how the finances will stand, or even how they're standing now.

Another was her personal experience with the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. They "are not our friend" she said, giving personal accounts of times she has tried to be involved in meetings and being denied the "right" to speak or be a part of what was advertised as a public meeting. She said in one meeting, the biggest concern by over 30 people was keeping the county out of debt, yet when the Chamber met to discuss that particular meeting and the "data" compiled, she said they did not once mention the subject of debt issues.

Also, she believed that the incentives offered to the large companies coming into the area is discrimination against our local business that is made up the county's very own citizens. Stanich believed that it could create lawsuits and be a nasty mess if someone decided to come forward and ask questions. Her main concern overall was representation. She wanted to know who will be looking out for their constituents and voice the concerns she has in order to save the local government and its people from becoming even more debt ridden than they already are.

The Bradley County Commission will meet again on Monday, October 3rd at 7 p.m. in the Courthouse.