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MJ squires revisit settlement with WCS

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In a quest to obtain some acreage from Wilson County Schools for a fire station, Mt. Juliet city commissioners revisited their latest liquor-by-the-drink lawsuit settlement offer with the district Monday night.

Squires unanimously agreed to amend their last offer to the school system that would waive $380,000 in school related construction fees to pay back what they owe the school district in unpaid liquor-by-the-drink tax revenues. The amendment instead reduces that offer of $380,000 by the amount of the to be appraised value of about three acres on system owned property on North Greenhill and Lebanon roads tapped for a future new high school.

The school system bought the land last year to build the new school, but indicated they were willing to give some of the acreage to Mt. Juliet for a new fire station. This donation was requested by Mt. Juliet during months of negotiations to settle the lawsuit brought by the school system to recover the city's unpaid liquor-by -the-drink tax revenues. However, at the last city commission meeting the city attorney was informed research showed the school system could not donate the acreage because of legalities related to the property secured by bonds.

In the meantime, more research showed the property could be obtained by reducing the city's settlement offer by the property's appraised value. During Monday's city commission meeting, a figure of $100,000 was discussed, but commissioners decided the property needed to be reappraised by the city and that appraisal would be the amount deducted from the waived fees and paid in cash for the property. The amendment also declares the city would not pay cash for the property until the system builds an access road to the property.

This latest settlement offer will be delivered to the Wilson County School Board for consideration. A few weeks ago the School Board voted to accept the city's previous settlement. Now, they will have to vote on this latest offer. A court date for the suit was scheduled for mid-March, but has been delayed for several months.

"I don't think they [School Board] will have a problem with this [Monday's amendment]," Commissioner Ray Justice said Monday night. "It's killing two birds with one stone."

He's been the city's spokesperson during the protracted negotiations and has said repeatedly one of his goals was to repair the relationship between the city and Wilson County Schools.

"I'd be shocked if they rejected this," Justice said.

Both Wilson County Schools and the Lebanon Special School District filed the lawsuit in 2014 after it was revealed both Lebanon and Mt. Juliet had not paid their portion of law-required alcohol tax revenues. During Mt. Juliet's negotiations with the School System to settle the suit, the LSSD was not discussed in the settlement offer. However, a few weeks ago at the last LSSD board meeting, these commissioners said they would do what was necessary to secure their portion of unpaid-liquor-by-the-drink revenue.

The school board meets April 3.

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