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Education, Budget panels, school board to seek new LHS funding solution

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By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post 

“Buddy Can You Spare Me a Dime?” a song popular during the Great Depression, may become the Wilson County Board of Education’s theme song in its campaign to get the county to fund a new Lebanon High School, or at least Director of Schools Mike Davis is singing it to commissioner.

Davis told the Education Committee at its regular meeting Thursday that a dime is what it would take to finance the bonds for the school if the county restructured its debt service.

County Finance Officer Ron Gilbert confirmed that adding that a $25 wheel tax or one-half cent in sales tax would also cover the interest until the school is ready for occupancy.

By that time if the debt is restructured, he said enough of the county’s existing debt would be paid that the county could afford the payments on the bonds.

The plan would require that the county use the $1.2 million-plus returned by Hewlett-Spencer after Mt. Juliet High School was completed as well as at least part of the fund balance as support for the project, Gilbert said. Hewlett-Spencer headed up the design and construction of the new MJHS.

And after a new LHS is finished, parts of the old school would need to be razed and rebuilt at a cost of about $12 million before it could be used as a middle school, Davis also said.

When District 20 Commissioner Annette Stafford made a motion for the education committee, the Budget Committee and the school board to work together to develop a revenue stream to fund the school, education panel Chair Paul Abercrombie seconded, and the committee, after some persuasion by Abercrombie agreed unanimously to pass the proposal.

Abercrombie then asked budget panel Chair Bernie Ash to chair the joint meeting and to schedule it with all three groups. Stafford and Abercrombie both asked Ash to start looking at possible funding solutions and bring the information to the joint meeting, and Ash agreed he would do so.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.

 

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