Dayton considers forgoing claim on school bond money

Dayton considers forgoing claim on school bond money

September 8th, 2011 By Tom Davis/Correspondent in News

Councilman Bill Graham, who also is Rhea County's finance director

DAYTON, Tenn. - Dayton City Council members have called a special meeting for Sept. 20 to consider a request to waive their claim to bond money that will be used to convert the present Rhea County High School to a middle school.

Under state law, the city would be entitled to about 14 percent of the estimated $2 million it will cost for the county to improve the current high school building to prepare its use as a middle school. The county's plan calls for students from Rhea Central Elementary School to move into the renovated building when it is vacated on completion of a new high school building in about two years.

Councilman Bill Graham, who also is the county's finance director, asked his fellow councilmen to legally renounce their claim to about $280,000, a move that would require adoption of an ordinance.

Tom McAnulty, Rhea County's bond adviser, said the county has at least two options to legally circumvent its obligation to the city, but the city's cooperation would help speed the process of getting the high school under construction.

Councilman Gary Louallen spoke in favor of the plan.

"I don't have a problem with it," he said. "They have a way around it. It's a peacemaker to the county."

His reference to "peacemaker" acknowledged the contention between the city and county after a sales tax increase was passed in 2008 to fund school construction, but the city refused to divert its share of that increase to the county.

In other matters, councilmen approved contracts with J.R. Wauford & Co. to begin design work on expansion of the city's water treatment plant and a distribution line to serve Dayton Mountain.

City officials have said the city's current treatment plant is nearing 80 percent of its capacity, at which time state regulations require an expansion. The total project envisions providing a new plant, a line to the city's 2 million gallon storage tank, a new connection to the line serving Dayton Mountain, and a new storage tank on the mountain.

Tom Davis is based in Dayton, Tenn. Contact him at tsdavis@volstate.net.