Rhea County Commission debates property buy

Rhea County Commission debates property buy

July 16th, 2013 by Kimberly McMillian in Local Regional News

Rhea County Councilman Bill Graham

DAYTON, Tenn. - Property loan bids approved without the Rhea County Budget Committee's knowledge had commissioners voting at odds recently.

"The Budget Committee is a farce," Commissioner Grover Parks said after a special called meeting.

Parks and Commissioner Ron Masterson said that the committee had not been made aware of the county Purchase and Finance Committee's ability to review loan bids.

In June, the commission voted 6-2 in favor of buying a 7.4-acre property at $350,000 for the new jail or justice center. Mayor Gary Louallen owns the property off Manufacturers Road on the north end of Rhea County.

Parks and Masterson had voted against the purchase.

The Rhea County Sheriff's Office offered to designate up to $50,000 in income from court-related fees, also known as litigation taxes, to lower the county's cost for the purchase to $300,000.

Finance Director Bill Graham led a discussion last week about the resolution for a three-year capital outlay note of $300,000 from Community National Bank.

Graham said semiannual payments on the three-year note would cost $50,000, or $30,000 for a five-year note, with no closing costs.

Commission Chairman Jim Reed and Masterson asked if earmarking the litigation taxes toward the repayment of debt was possible because such payments vary.

"Crime is not going down," Graham said, contending court fees are a constant resource of income for the county.

County Attorney Carol Ann Barron said earmarking the payments wasn't an option, but that two viable uses for the money included courthouse security and jailhouse construction.

Before the commission vote on the property purchase, Parks shook his head and asked who approved the bids.

Graham said the bids had been approved by the Finance Committee two weeks ago.

Commissioners voted 8-1 in favor of the five-year contract. Parks voted against the motion.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bell south.net.