Kimball seeks alternate funding for tech school

Kimball seeks alternate funding for tech school

March 12th, 2013 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

The old 150-acre Holland Farm along U.S. Highway 41 in Kimball, Tenn., is the site of a proposed career and technical school. County leaders plan to open a 12,000-square-foot building for 250 students there by next January.

KIMBALL, Tenn. - City administrators have committed $750,000 to Marion County's technical school project along U.S. Highway 41, but now they'll have to find another way to get it than they had planned.

Officials were prepared to borrow the needed funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development office, but the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously late last week to cancel its loan application.

Mayor David Jackson said the money will be used to build a sewer line to the school site, but there will be some left over to help with the first building's construction. The career and technical school is planned for the 150-acre Holland Farm property along U.S. Highway 41 in Kimball.

"Our commitment was used and helped to secure the $1 million [Economic Development Administration] grant," he said. "Rural Development has said now that since the entire $750,000 is not going to be spent on the sewer line, they do not want to loan us the money."

According to Jackson, Rural Development officials said they wanted to "go through the county" to loan the money, and he called them last week to voice his displeasure with that.

"We're big boys down here, and we can borrow our own money," he said. "We don't need somebody borrowing it for us."

The board voted unanimously to proceed with the steps to issue a bond to get the money, but it will look into other financing options before making a decision on how to get the needed money.

Issuing a bond is an unusual step for a small town, and City Attorney Billy Gouger said Kimball has never done it under the current laws.

"It's pretty obvious we're obligated for $750,000 at least," Alderman Jerry Don Case said. "We've got to get the money somewhere."

Alderman Mark Payne said the city "may get some offers" from local banks once word gets out that Kimball is seeking a large loan.

"Maybe somebody will pick a winning lottery number," he said.

Jackson said groundbreaking for the first building at the school site is set for late May or early June.

"The plans are to be in that school for the spring semester [in 2014]," he said. "Right now, as cheap as money is to borrow, it's time to borrow if you're going to have to borrow it."