After a nearly one-hour long discussion about the city loaning the Mt. Juliet League money to upgrade and replace its current lighting, Mt. Juliet commissioners on Monday night deferred the decision to a special called meeting on Jan. 26.
Both Commissioner Art Giles and Vice-Mayor James Maness said they would not vote for the measure Monday night, thus the deferral.
Commissioner Ray Justice is also the president of the youth baseball and softball leagues.
“I am not against any kind of athletic program for youth,” Giles said. “We give them a $15,000 a year grant. We’ve just settled a (liquor tax) lawsuit, we must deal with another fire station with $1 million for staff on that. We are not in the banking business. I am supportive, but I can’t vote for giving a loan of $450,000. I am voting no, not against sports, but we have to be good stewards of our money. People have voiced their opinion. I can’t do it.”
Justice said this year $36,000 went to repair lights, but called that a “Band-Aid.” Maness made a motion to amend the proposed $450,000 loan to $432,000. That passed, 3-0-1.
Justice said other cities support youth sports in their budget. He said loan would be made instead of the city’s annual $15,000 grant to the league and that the money would be paid back in 10 years.
“There is a private organization that provides this in Mt. Juliet, we are a model of youth sports utopia, we’ve done it with $15,000,” he said.
He told Giles he knows he’s not in the banking business.
“But you aren’t in the youth sports business either,” Justice said.
Maness said there are just too many obligations already.
“I know we don’t fund youth sports to the tune of other cities,” he said. “I am not opposed to what’s going on here. We need to redirect our discussion on how to get it passed.”
Commissioner Jennifer Milele asked for a signed agreement.
“I was going to vote for it pending the contract,” she said. “We have an exceptional non-profit here. I support it, my sons played at the park. The lighting then was horrible, it’s badly needed and justifies the loan from city and the park has a vested interest to play a part and pay money back. It’s a dire need. We aren’t charging interest and we are not a bank. My vote is for this.”
Justice discussed possible fundraisers for the league, the fireworks display at the park and attempts to increase tournaments as ways to make money to repay the potential loan
If the loan is made, the commissioners decided a charge of 2 percent interest will be applied if a payment is missed.