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Mayor vetos commission's vote on athletic fields

Robert Houk • Jul 10, 2019 at 6:48 PM

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy wants a “do-over” on authorizing $800,000 to prepare athletic fields at the new Boones Creek pre-K-8 school.

Grandy told members of the county’s Budget Committee he has vetoed a resolution that was passed by the County Commission last month to do the work. He asked the committee Wednesday to send commissioners a new resolution on July 22 authorizing grading, irrigation and dirt removal at the new school site for a track, as well as football, soccer, baseball and softball fields.

“I owe you an explanation,” Grandy said of his first veto.

The mayor said the previous resolution authorizing the work was being treated as a change order to the orignal construction contract for the Boones Creek school. Officials believe doing the work for the athletic fields while the contractors still had equipment on the site could save the county money.

Grandy said purchasing officials discovered there was no provision in the contract with BurWil Construction that would allow for such a change order. He also noted the $800,000 allocated for the project, which includes money for design and architect fees, exceeds the amount allowed by state law for projects to be approved without seeking bids.

He said the project would now be put out for bids and returned to the commission for final approval.

Commission Chairman Greg Matherly said he agreed with Grandy’s decision to veto the commission’s earlier action and “start over, rather than piecemeal the language” of the original resolution. That measure was approved by a 8-5 vote last month, with Commissioners Mike Ford, Steve Light, Kent Harris, Jerome Fitzgerald and Danny Edens questioning the cost to move dirt at the site.

In other business Wednesday, the committee approved a $196,000 request from the county’s Board of Education to replace a 25-year-old boiler unit at David Crockett High School contingent on that project also being advertised for bids. Grandy said purchasing officials have identified a possible problem with the project being negotiated by school officials and Energy Systems Group without competitive bids.

Grandy said it could put the county in an “awkward position” in terms of funding the project.

Committee members also heard more from the Washington County Election Commission about a proposal to move its offices in the historic Washington County Courthouse to a former hardware store at 220 N. 2nd Ave. in Jonesborough.

Mitch Meredith, the county’s director of administration and finance, said the 1.9-acre tract includes a 9,200-square-foot building that has generated a combined $10,172 in annual property taxes for Jonesborough and Washington County.

Election officials are asking for $975,000 to buy the building, which sits across U.S. Highway 11E from the George P. Jaynes Justice Center. Another $345,000 would be needed for renovations to the building that formerly housed Olde Towne Hardware.

Election Commissioner Jon Ruetz said he and his colleagues have been working with former Jonesborough Alderman David Sell and his family to purchase the property. He said the proposed renovations to the building call for “keeping as much open space as possible” for use as a meeting area for the community.

‘We’d like to move forward as quickly as possible,” he told the committee. “We’ve got a busy election season approaching.”

Commissioner Jim Wheeler said he was “excited about the project,” and believes having the new Election Commission location as a multi-purpose facility would be “a selling point to other commissioners.”

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