Loudon County Commission voted down Aug. 3 changing the amount of Adequate Facilities Tax going to the county’s two school systems.
County Commissioners Van Shaver and Bill Satterfield motioned and seconded, respectively, to alter the current 85-15 percent split between the county and Lenoir City to 90-10. The vote failed 9-1, with Shaver the lone supporter. Satterfield said he seconded to allow for conversation.
Shaver maintained the change was to give Loudon County Schools additional money for the capital projects fund.
He said the additional 5 percent would have resulted in about $50,000.
“I would personally be curious to see if we’re allowed to do it,” Adam Waller, county commissioner, said. “I don’t see a need to change it until we have some clarification on that, so hopefully we get some clarification. Plus it’s already in the school’s budget, it’s only 5 percent, it’s been like that for a lot longer than I’ve been around. But again, my whole question, are we allowed to do it?”
Shaver referenced a question he posed to county attorney Bob Bowman.
“Can the county share of the revenue for Adequate Facilities Taxes with the city school system located within the county? If so, what purpose must the city system use it for?” Shaver said. “His answer, ‘It’s unclear whether a county can share the tax revenue with the city school system located within the county. There is no statutory authority, case law or Tennessee attorney general opinions on this matter. However, based on plain language of Tennessee such and such, if a county shares the tax revenue with the city school system, the city school system must use the money the same way we did.’
“Ms. (Jeanne) Barker has brought us some documents tonight that kind of show that’s what they’re doing with their share of it,” he added.
Lenoir City Director of Schools Jeanne Barker and Jeanie Mowery, business manager, were present at the meeting.
During last month’s meeting, Mowery said the money went into general purpose capital projects because there was no capital projects fund.
Barker said although not specifically called AFT, the money goes into a line item where it is only used for capital improvement expenditures.
“We’re very pleased that there will be no reduction in AFT to Lenoir City Schools and Loudon County residents who we serve,” Barker said.
Lenoir City the past three years has received $137,293, $155,329 and $140,651, respectively.
Shaver said he planned to bring the percent change back up for discussion the next budget cycle.
“We still don’t know if we can legally do it, but I have no desire to pursue that, that wasn’t my goal to cut them completely off, anything like that,” Shaver said. “I just wanted to adjust the dollar amount going from Lenoir City Schools to the county schools.”
Satterfield at one point during the meeting asked Loudon County Budget Director Tracy Blair if the money distribution ever showed up on the yearly audit.
Blair said it has never been shown as “inappropriate” to send the money.
“I think right now is not a time when we need to be taking from one group and giving to another,” Matthew Tinker, county commissioner, said. “There would be plenty of money in AFT if money hadn’t been taken out of there a couple of years ago (for the jail addition). So I don’t want to take money out of our AFT, move it into another line and then try to replenish that by taking it from district 2 kids.”
In other news, Loudon County Commission:
• Passed changes to 22 boards and committees. Scott Newman’s appointment to the ethics committee was withdrawn and tabled. Loudon County Emergency Management Agency Director Kelli Branam also replaced former director Daryl Smith on the county 911 board.
• Rezoned 17.3 acres at 16250 El Camino Lane from A-1 Agriculture-Forestry District to M-1 General Industrial District.
• Amended the county zoning resolution, article 5 zoning districts, section 5.043 R-1 Suburban Residential District. The change ends a moratorium on multifamily developments, Shaver said.
• Passed a multiyear phone service contract for Loudon County Schools.
• Approved Community Connect to provide five hot spots and $2,000 programming stipend for required community workshops for Greenback Public Library.
• Authorized grants from Good Neighbors Shoppe and Walmart to go toward funding a TruNarc analyzer at Loudon County Sheriff’s Office.
• Approved amendments in General Purpose School Fund 141 and Central Cafeteria Fund 143.
• Agreed to send to Loudon County Regional Planning Commission the possibility of making minimum of planned unit development from five acres to 75 acres.