Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

BOE not present at Craighead's Cumberland Center meeting

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Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead’s interlocal meeting held Thursday evening invited members of the Wilson County Commission, Wilson County School Board and Lebanon City Council to hear his plans for the Cumberland Center Entertainment District.

Although school board members were invited, none were present at the meeting. Lebanon Special Schools Director Scott Benson was in attendance, but had no comments on the project at this time.

Several commissioners were present, including Randy Hall, District 25, and Annette Stafford, District 20, and also County Mayor Randall Hutto.

Craighead presented the new plan which would call for the city, county – and possibly school system – to enter into an interlocal agreement which would begin a “savings fund.”

Craighead explained that establishing an entertainment district, anchored by future plans for an event center, would attract more restaurants, retailers and business offices to Lebanon – therefore increasing sales tax revenues in an area that is mainly otherwise untapped.

The agreement would ask the city to surrender their portions of the sales tax generated within the district to support the project, which is being developed by Vastland Realty. Funds would be saved to be used towards the construction of the Cumberland Center mixed-use facility.

The center, which could be used for concerts, trade shows, conventions, indoor sports, banquets, graduations, proms and festivals, would be constructed on 20 acres of donated property within the heart of the district. Craighead said based on the fact that the acre and a half of land purchased by Logan’s Roadhouse sold over $800,000, he estimates the 20 acre raw land donation to be valued at $6 to 8 million.

Construction of the center – an estimated $40 million - would be paid for through the fund set up in the local agreement, consisting of the city’s portion of sales tax revenue generated in the area, as well as the increase in city and county property tax brought in by the new development. The county could also elect to surrender their half of the 2.25 sales tax revenue – 82 percent of which goes to WCS and 18 of which goes to Lebanon Special Schools – to benefit the fund.

Under the plan, the fund would be operated by a six-member board including the city and county mayors, two county commissioners, two city council members - and possibly two school board members if they elected to join in. The plan states that the fund can only hold up to $10 million at the end of each calendar year and that the board will return funds exceeding that $10 million to those revenue sources – the city, county and schools.

“Once the center is paid-off, the board has the authority to release all or part of committed revenues back to appropriate sources,” the agreement reads. “It is the responsibility of the board to assure sufficient revenues are in place or will continue to be available as to not place any hardship or burden on any local governing entities.”

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