Marion County Justice Center probation offices lease extended

Marion County Justice Center probation offices lease extended

July 2nd, 2012 by Ryan Lewis in News

John Graham stands in front of the Marion County Courthouse in this file photo.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. -- Marion County commissioners have agreed to extend for one year the county's lease with the state for probation offices at the Marion County Justice Center.

County Mayor John Graham said the lease expired Saturday, but the state did not request another "typical" four- or five-year lease of the 690-square-foot space.

"The last lease was four years," he said. "[The state] is not asking for that this time. They're asking for a one-year extension because they are re-evaluating the probation system in the state of Tennessee."

State officials did not give any details about what the re-evaluation involves, he said.

The board voted unanimously last week to approve the extension.

Commissioner Tommy Thompson, who was on the Building Use Committee when the county entered the lease agreement, said the space was leased for about $6 per square foot when "the going rate" was about $12.

"We were getting nothing in the years before that, but we were promised at the end of this four-year lease that [the state] would go up on that amount closer to what the market price would be," he said.

In fact, Graham said, the state did escalate its lease payments during the current contract.

During the first year of the current agreement, the county received just over $3,900 per year, County Attorney Billy Gouger said.

"In July 2008 and for the remainder of the lease, it escalated to $5,520, which is about $8 per square foot," he said. "It's still not market value, but it's higher than where we started."

"If we buck them and we leave it to the [state] Legislature, they may move us to Alabama, if it's anything like our election representation," Commission Chairman Les Price said.

"I don't see a problem giving them a 12-month extension as is," Thompson said. "When it comes up at the end of those 12 months, then we can look at it again."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.