By BEN DUDLEYThe Wilson Post
After a failed referendum to raise the wheel tax in order to fund a new Lebanon High School this past fall, Wilson County Commission unanimously voted to sell bonds to pay the cost of construction at Monday night’s regular meeting.
“I am so happy for Lebanon High School,” said District 7 Commissioner Georgia Franklin. “I worked there for 17 years and I know how much this was needed.”
“This was a long time coming,” said Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead. “I want to thank the commissioners for doing what needed to be done.”
The commission voted 24-0, with District 11 Commissioner Bob Neal absent, in favor of beginning the process of financing the new LHS and voted similarly in favor of selling $50 million in bonds to fund the entire cost of the school. These votes were followed by thunderous applause by the audience, which consisted of a large contingent from LHS, including Principals Nancy Ash, Bobby Brown and Myra Sloan.
“We are not allowed to come back and ask for more money,” said Mike Davis, county director of Schools. “This $50 million will cover everything, not just construction costs, and our bidders will know this ahead of time.”
Davis also said that since the original plans came in at $54 million, the architect would have to adjust them to fit the lower cost. He said this process would take 30 days and it would take another 30 days to take bids on the construction.
“We should get started 60-90 days after we have received the money,” Davis said. “This $50 million is not just for the building; it’s the total cost of furniture and everything because we can’t come back and ask for more money.”
“We will try not to reduce any of the square footage of the building,” he said, “but we may lower the volume of the upper floors to lower building costs as well as future heating and cooling costs.”
Davis added that the geothermal heating and cooling system planned for the school will save millions of dollars over time.
Another issue was given an interesting twist as District 2 Commissioner Chris Sorey made a motion to reconsider, which according to Robert’s Rules of Order, defers the issue to a later meeting and can be made only by one on the prevailing side who has changed position or view. Sorey and District 13 Commissioner Clint Thomas motioned and seconded the reconsideration, respectively, on which there is no need to vote.
This issue was the county’s agreement to pay the City of Mt. Juliet for part of the Curd Road construction. Resolution 10-3-4 provided an interlocal fund for the money while Resolution 10-3-5 authorized capital outlay notes of $650,000 for the payment.
“Is it too much to ask Mt. Juliet for an invoice that shows exactly how much we owe?” Thomas asked.
“This is a rare thing,” said County Attorney Mike Jennings, “but it is in Robert’s Rules of Order. I’ve never seen or heard of it being used though.”
Sorey said that the county should wait until they have an actual invoice of how much is owed to the city before they begin setting aside money. He said the issue is not whether or not the county owes money to Mt. Juliet, but just trying to see exactly how much is owed.
In other business, Jennings was reappointed as county attorney by the commission.