School lease details posted on county website

Robert Houk • Oct 11, 2019 at 8:00 AM

A proposed contract between Washington County and Jonesborough calling for the town to build a new K-8 school and sports complex to be leased by the county has been posted at washingtoncountytn.org.

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said details of the lease contract were still being negotiated by attorneys representing the town, county and the Washington County Board of Education late Thursday afternoon.

State law required the lease-to-own contract to be published on the county’s website seven days in advance of a special meeting of the County Commission on Oct. 17 to consider the measure.

The version of the contract commissioners will see next week can be be viewed by clicking on the “Current Agenda Packet” link on the county’s website.

The mayor said revisions to the proposed lease were being reviewed by the county’s attorneys from the law firm of Baker Donelson.

“We are getting the best legal advice that we can,” Grandy said.

He said the lease posted on the county’s website is a “positive move forward” for the project.

“We’ve talked about a new Jonesborough school long enough,” he said. “It’s time to take action.”

Commissioners voted last month to approve the concept of the town spending as much as $32 million to build a school and sports complex. They also met in a workshop on Oct. 1 to hear from county attorneys they have hired to help negotiate the first-of-its-kind deal. 

Culver Schmid, an attorney with Baker Donelson, told commissioners the leases for the school and sports complex “are critical to the process.” Schmid also said he and his colleagues have “come up with a legal structure that complies with the law” that applies to the apportionment of county taxes and shared school funds. 

Grandy said Thursday much of the negotiations with Jonesborough have centered around which party should shoulder the financial liabilities and the expenses the project has occurred to this point. He said the town has agreed to obtain the financing for the project, and has locked down a 90-day maximum bond rate at 3% that will be be good until Jan. 1. 

Meanwhile, the mayor said Johnson City officials have also been “receptive and cooperative” in showing support for the new Jonesborough school.

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