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Work session held in search of school funding

Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 5:45 pm

07-22-15 School Funding 003LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Following Monday’s Metropolitan Lynchburg Moore County Council meeting, the council held an open work session to entertain ideas on how the county can move forward with capital projects, both current and prospective.

When the council was in the process of approving the budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16, budget committee chairman Tommy Brown recommended that the council hold an open meeting to discuss the school system’s needs for improving the facilities at the Moore County High School and Middle School campus.

The Moore County Board of Education provided the Council with a project plan estimated at $17.3 million six months ago, but little had been done since the Council’s January meeting when the Tullahoma-based engineering firm of Oliver, Little and Gipson gave a broadly detailed plan for upgrades at the county’s main campus.

The school board’s projected plan of action was never on the table for FY2015-16, however, and a revision to the budget that would raise property taxes 10 cents and funnel approximately $225,000 to $240,000 toward school improvements failed twice.

While Monday’s work session was planned primarily with the school project in mind, that’s wasn’t the only topic up for discussion. The county’s infrastructure, including the possibility of an industrial park and the need for new industry, were discussed as well.

“Way too many people are leaving the county to have to go to work. There needs to be something done about that,” said councilman Glenn Searcy.

The one-hour-and-15-minute-long meeting, however, centered mostly on the wants and needs of the school board. And separating the two — and eventually finding a way to pay for it — will likely take many more discussions.

In fact, it took awhile Monday evening before those present — including Mayor Sloan Stewart, 14 members of the Council, Director of Schools Chad Moorehead, all five school board members and approximately a dozen community members — to even get on track.

“There’s nothing been acted upon (by the council) because there’s nothing been finalized as to what we’re looking at as far as cost,” said Council Chairman Coleman March.

Council member Amy Cashion responded, “I thought that’s what this meeting was about was to start trying to brainstorm ideas on how we could decide how much we could afford and decide what we could afford … or what we thought we could afford and then put the ball back in their court.

“So if we think we can’t afford the 17.5 (million), which is what I think I’m hearing, then how much do we think we can afford?,” she added. “How do we go down that road to where we can see how much we can afford?”

Among the revenue streams available are sales tax, property tax and bottle sales from Jack Daniel’s Distillery. While the need for new industry, which would help the property tax base, is evident, another suggestion discussed Monday was a wheel tax.

 —By ROBERT HOLMAN, Publisher (mcnpub@lcs.net)

For the FULL VERSION of this story, see the July 23 PRINT EDITION of The Moore County News. Click here to subscribe.

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