Washington Co. Commission weighs risks and benefits of Jonesborough School Plan

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JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL)- Tuesday night’s workshop allowed for Washington County Commission to ask their attorney questions about entering into a long-term lease to buy agreement with the town of Jonesborough to build a new K-8 school.

“The timeline is pretty tight on getting that lease prepared,” said commission chairman Greg Matherly.

PREVIOUS STORY: Washington County Commission to hold workshop to discuss Jonesborough K-8 Proposal

Without a finalized lease in hand and a looming deadline- the Washington County commission is concerned that the Jonesborough school project could bring great risks.

A major issue – the so-called apportionment law that requires equitable spending on schools.

“The apportionment of tax levees as required by law can be avoided so long as the county’s rent is used to directly or indirectly pay only for the costs of school capital improvements,” said Culver Schmid- a representative from the county’s attorney- Baker Donaldson out of Knoxville.

Another concern – the still unconfirmed details of the plan to build the school in Jonesborough and what impact that could have on the final price tag.

“In the event that cost of the acquisition of the land and construction of the project exceed the amount the rent made available to repay the bonds, the county would be responsible for the excess costs,” said Schmid in his initial address to the board.

Matherly made it clear – he and others on the board want to see the latest version of the lease agreement.

“There’s been a lot of issues to the original lease that was initially proposed by Jonesborough and a lot of changes. I’d like to see the lease- what it proposes- as far as the costs and the obligations of the county is the main thing that I would be concerned with,” said Matherly.

Also unresolved – concerns voiced by Johnson City school leaders that the Jonesborough plan puts an unfair burden on city taxpayers.

SEE MORE: Johnson City Schools worried about long-term financial impact of Jonesborough School Proposal

“I’m just hoping that as a commission that we can work with the Johnson City Commission and the School Board to come up with another creative plan that gets the funds that they need for their capital improvements and new schools,” said Commissioner Larry England who represents the 7th district of the county- where Town Acres Elementary is, one of the schools on Johnson City’s list to improve.

PREVIOUS STORY: Middle school transition plan discussed by Johnson City leaders

The commission will need a finalized lease agreement between the town of Jonesborough, Washington county and its school board on October 9th.

This is to ensure the county has enough time to process the agreement before a final vote set for October 17th.

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