JASPER, Tenn. - After nearly 20 years, the boundary dispute between Marion and Franklin counties could be coming to an end.
The Marion County Commission recently voted unanimously for a resolution that would authorize surveyors to proceed with work that needs to be done to establish an official county line.
"We have a tentative agreement on where that line would be," Marion County Attorney Billy Gouger said. "This resolution lays the groundwork for going forward with resolving the dispute."
Franklin County administrators have passed a similar version of the resolution.
The compromise would "be to Marion County's advantage," Gouger said.
"Marion County would gain taxable property that it doesn't have now on the south end of the line without losing any on the north end of the line," he said. "We're not actually giving up any property, but it is a compromise."
The reason Franklin is willing to make such a compromise is because there is little to no road access or utilities in that county along the south end of the proposed line, Gouger said.
Commissioner Gene Hargis said the dispute began years ago when landowners "mysteriously" started getting taxed in Franklin as well as Marion, and he wants to be cautious when proceeding with any compromise.
"The people that were really affected were the people on the north end of this line," he said. "I would agree to go forward with it, but I think those folks up there deserve a little justice. They are the ones that got this thing started. I want to try to look out for their interests."
According to County Assessor of Property Judy Brewer, the proposed line would not impact any Marion resident on the north end of the line, Gouger said.
"When we're finished, there will still be large tracts of land in both counties," he said. "We'll just have to work together to decide how that's going to be taxed."
County Mayor John Graham said the board has approved only the initial steps toward ending the quarrel.
"[The board] is not voting on the line yet," he said. "It's just letting things go forward so we can bring it back to [the board] for a decision."
"Hopefully, we're getting close to a resolution," Commission Chairman Les Price said.