New changes made to proposed lease for possible Jonesborough school


JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – News Channel 11 learned more about a proposed lease for the Jonesborough school project on Friday.

The draft lease agreement outlines Jonesborough’s plan to build a new K-8 school and lease it to Washington County.

The county would eventually own the school.

The revised proposal includes a number of changes to the originally proposed lease agreement.

SEE ALSO: Washington County mayor feeling rushed to analyze latest school lease proposal

Jonesborough Town Attorney Jim Wheeler said under the new revisions, the town now retains control of the project’s construction and costs. In addition, Washington County does have an “up or down” on the designs for the project. The county can can also back out of the project once the designs are complete, but they would have to pay back all of the costs the town incurs, including staff time.

The proposal also contains two separate leases, a building lease and a facilities lease.

“The second lease is about the management operation of the community athletic facilities,” said Wheeler, “so that lease only involves those and the payment under that lease would go to the town and be used for that maintenance, but also for the other programs throughout the towns Parks and Rec system and otherwise.”

The latest version of that “facilities lease” proposes a payment from the county to the Town of just over half a million dollars a year.

That would offset the town’s cost for maintaining ball fields and other recreational facilities.

That arrangement could benefit the town because the lease envisions the school only using those facilities about 20 percent of the time, with town residents using them about 80 percent of the time.

Wheeler expects any final recommendations from Washington County by early next week.

“Perhaps the only real issue between the [Washington County] mayor and the town right now is control of the design in the building,” said Wheeler.

Current estimates put the cost of the school at about $30 million.

Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said time is playing an important factor in securing a Rural Development loan.

“Right now, we have the opportunity to lock in a good rate if we get this application in,” said Vest.

A special called County Commission meeting will be held October 17th.

The lease agreement could be voted on that evening.

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