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Putnam Commission Votes Against Additional Park View School Bond

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Putnam Commission Votes Against Additional Park View School Bond

Debt load, economic uncertainties and the real need cited as reasons Putnam County Commissioners voted against the bond to build the upper grade wing of Park View School.

A 12 to 12 vote Tuesday night means the $16.5 million bond proposal failed to reach a majority. Commissioner David Andrews voted against funding the project. He said he worries about a possible recession and the bond impacting future tax payers.

“I’ve always supported the schools, and I still support the schools, but I believe right now is not the time based on our economy and based on what I see everyday,” Andrews said.

The school board wanted to move forward because it had a locked in price and wanted to avoid unnecessary future building costs. For example, some walls will need to be torn down at the K-4 school to connect the 5-8 wing once it is built.

Commissioner Jonathan Williams urged commissioners to avoid the mistakes of previous commissions. Williams said they did not have the foresight when making decisions on Cookeville High School and the Justice Center.

“We see how it has affected us in the future,” Williams said. “We now have the luxury of hindsight, and we’re all paying for it. So we have an opportunity here to be proactive and do the proactive thing and not follow the footsteps of shortsighted decision making.”

Mayor Randy Porter’s bond proposal came without a tax increase and delayed the interest and principal payments a few years. This would ensure that the county has enough cash flow to cover anticipated capital projects next year.

Commissioner Dale Moss said even though the project has been moved to the future, the money will still need to be found.

“It’s going to have to be we either find the money somewhere else with revenue or comes extra or we are going to raise taxes,” Moss said. “We are already looking at a tax increase next year substantially.”

Commissioner Chris Cassetty said the project will likely not be considered for two or three more years with the rejection. Cassetty said from his experience, the county will not be able to build the school for $16.5 million in the future.

“There will be people seating there saying we wish we built that for 16.5,” Cassetty said. “We’re not raising taxes. We are not voting to increase the tax rate to do this. I think we need to strongly consider it. One way or another we need to give everybody an answer.”

Commissioners that voted in favor include Jonathan Williams, Fred Vondra, Sam Sandlin, Ron Chaffin, Vinnie Faccinto, Chris Cassetty, AJ Donadio, Grover Bennett Jr., Danny Holmes, Ben Rodgers, Robert Riddle and Dale Moss voted in favor.

Commissioners that voted against the motion include David Gentry, Chevin Eldridge, Theresa Tayes, Ken Hall, Junior Phipps, Adam Johnson, Kim Bradford, Terry Randolph, Darren Wilson, Kathy Dunn, Cathy Reel and David Andrews.


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