Today is Thursday, August 24, 2017

Squires OK $63 million bond issue for schools, WEMA

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The bonds were approved in three resolutions with only District 10 Commissioner Nathan Clariday voting against all three.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto explained $35 million is being issued from the Rural Debt Service Fund, indicating the money was set aside for future school construction. He said the $28 million bond issue is being drawn from General Debt Service.

This money is coming out of the General Debt side. If you approve these, you are saying you have a maximum limit, saying you have the intent in mind, the money available and are prepared to move forward, Hutto said.

The bonds are to pay for design, site development, constructing, improving and renovating local schools, but while the resolutions also included generic language about acquiring land, Hutto said no land is to be purchased, specifically for WHS since the Wilson County Board of Education had already acquired property for that project.

Wilson County Director of Schools Mike Davis said the improvements and expansions to the West Wilson schools would alleviate overcrowding and help reduce the number of portable classrooms that are currently in use.

Itll get a lot of kids out of mobile units and into real buildings, Davis said of the $35 million bond issue.

Davis said the funds would upgrade the school buildings at West Elementary and West Wilson Middle Schools as well as build a new Kindergarten through 2nd grade building at Rutland Elementary to solve the schools overcrowding issues.

With the bond issues passed, Hutto said the school board will be seeking bids for the construction projects, but noted the passage of the bonds have to be made public for 20 days prior to the board moving forward.

Hutto said the bids would be received by June 29 and be returned to the commission in July for their consideration. He said the bonds place a not to exceed amount on the projects and pointed out the commission can vote to not approve the construction in July if they choose.

You can tell me then, Mayor, we want to do this or we dont want to do it, Hutto said.

District 19 Commissioner William Glover asked Hutto to clarify for the record that no property tax increase would be required in order to build the school improvements, new WHS and the two WEMA stations. Hutto assured the commission that no tax increase would be needed.

County Finance Director Aaron Maynard said he factored a 1.5-cent property tax rate increase into the bonds but said repaying the bonds would not be jeopardized if the rates do not go up.

Some commissioners were concerned with the process of issuing the bonds prior to bidding out the jobs. District 16 Commissioner Jason Brockman said the county was showing how much were willing to pay to contractors for the projects.

Hutto and Maynard said the process was considered to be the best way to handle the bonds and said with the competitive bid market, it was unlikely any company would inflate a price just to reach the total not to exceed amount of the bonds.

They are bidding against those others that are bidding too so theyre not going to overbid, Hutto said.

Glover asked if there were steps the commission could take in order to encourage local companies and contractors to submit bids, but District 15 Commissioner Mike Justice said they discussed incentives in the latest Budget Committee meeting, pointing out state law does not allow the county to give incentives to local companies.

We need to encourage all our folks to bid and we hope they get it, Hutto said.

Also included in the $28 million bond issue was $3 million for two new WEMA stations to the north and south of Lebanon, to push fire coverage into those areas of the county and improve efficiency at Station 1 on Oak Street in Lebanon.

WEMA Director John Jewell said the two new stations will not only improve fire coverage to areas north and south of Lebanon, but would still maintain the prompt ambulance response times within the city where they are needed.

He pointed out Station 1 houses most of the Agencys administrative offices as well as numerous vehicles and expensive equipment outdoors without adequate cover. He said they would split the vehicles and equipment between the two new stations to better protect them.

They are badly needed, Jewell said. It pushes the fire capability outside the city where it really needs to be.

Jewell said Station 1 was very cluttered and the new stations will make the Oak Street location more efficient. Hutto noted they looked at two possible sites on Monday and are working to secure land donations to help with costs of building the two stations.

Hutto also said while they are borrowing the money for the schools projects and WEMA stations together, the commission would approve the bids for those jobs separately in a few months.

When you approve the schools, youll approve the WEMA separately, but when you borrow the money, you do it at the same time because it will save you money, Hutto said.

In other business, County Attorney Mike Jennings was reappointed to a two-year term by the commission at $76,019 a year. The vote to reappoint Jennings was 18 in favor, five against, with two absent. The vote totals were the same regarding his compensation.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at

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