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MJ OKs pending agreement to settle school board lawsuit

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It looks like the offer to settle the Wilson County School Board's lawsuit against Mt. Juliet to secure unpaid liquor-by-the-drink taxes has some traction.

Monday night Mt. Juliet city commissioners approved a pending agreement to settle the lawsuit.

"Tonight was a culmination of our efforts to work through all this," District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice said after the meeting. "I'm so happy the city and the county are trying to get things accomplished."

Three commissioners voted for accepting the "offer" to settle from the county, while one was absent (Mayor Ed Hagerty) and one abstained (Art Giles).

Giles wanted it made clear he was not at all against the school system. His abstention was related to other details indirectly related to the settlement, namely sidewalks at Springdale Elementary School.

This was the first of two readings on the vote to accept the offer, that wasn't readily clarified, because the offer from the county to settle was readjusted by the city commission.

Even City Attorney Gino Marchetti indicated at this point it was too convoluted to delineate the specifics. He has to go back and put it in order, he said.

"We've tentatively reached a settlement to resolve the issue with the county related to liquor taxes and waive futures fees of schools' construction," Marchetti said.

The second vote with clearer wording on the settlement is scheduled for Nov. 14, he said.

Justice explained, in general, Monday's vote set forth a path to settle with the Wilson County Board of Education and the city would waive future $380,000 in school construction fees. In conjunction with accepting the settlement, city commissioners gave the county permission to begin, poste haste, sewer construction at the new Springdale Elementary School under construction at 5675 Central Pike. The commission agreed to use a performance bond of $18 million-plus, in lieu of a letter of credit for $1 million.

The school board and the city commission were at an impasse over this and it seemed to hinge on the outcome of settling the suit. With this first reading to settle the suit, the nod was giving and work on the sewer at the new school will commence immediately.

Giles' concern about the two-pronged issue was assurance from the school board they would construct sidewalks at the school. This was one of several amendments added to the package, to be clarified and "worked through" before second reading.

Also, part of the settlement was the donation of three acres of land from future new Mt. Juliet High School site slated for North Green Hill and Lebanon Roads. These three acres are for a potential fire station on the north side of Mt. Juliet.

It's to be built within two years, according to discussion. Another point of discussion was building a road through that property and who would be responsible for this.

"I'd like to think we'll call it a wash in the settlement," Justice said.

However, a lot of "cleaning up" on the exact language, and clarification, in the settlement will take place before the second reading.

Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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Tags: 
education, lawsuit, liquor-by-the-drink, Mt. Juliet, Mt. Juliet City Commission, settlement, taxes, Wilson County Board of Education, Wilson County Schools
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