The Mt. Juliet City Commission voted to make another attempt at securing land from Wilson County Schools for a future fire station.
The group voted to alter terms of a previous liquor-by-the-drink lawsuit agreement to include the purchase of about 3 acres of land on North Greenhill Road, which the system bought last year.
Commissioner Ray Justice said last month the 3 acres at the future site of a second Mt. Juliet high school on North Greenhill Road could potentially be a part of the settlement, depending on future talks with school officials.
In the previous agreement, the city would agree to waive any and all future fees that are within its authority up to $380,000 that are related to building, renovation and development of new and existing schools.
On Monday, the commission voted to amend the agreement to reduce the offer of $380,000 by the appraised value of the 3 acres on North Greenhill Road, and the city would buy the land for that price. The city will not pay for the land until a road to the site is built, according to the agreement.
“I would be shocked if they rejected this, because it does exactly what the original offer was to us,” said Commissioner Ray Justice.
Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty said last month he would be more supportive of the agreement if the 3 acres were involved.
In 2013, it was revealed many municipalities in Tennessee were not paying their portion of their liquor-by-the-drink tax to public schools systems in which those cities operated due to an oversight. Wilson County Schools and the Lebanon Special School District were among the school districts in Tennessee that were owed back money by cities.
The Wilson County Board of Education filed a lawsuit in Wilson County chancery court in 2014 after failing to reach an agreement with the city about paying liquor-by-the-drink back taxes collected until 2013. Mt. Juliet owes an estimated $372,000, according to Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall.
Earlier this month, the Lebanon Special School District voted to go after its portion owed from the suit after it believed a settlement was reached between Mt. Juliet and Wilson County Schools.
The resolution authorizes school district attorneys “to undertake any and all steps as are necessary to secure to the Lebanon Special School District all monies which should be paid and distributed to the Lebanon Special School District.”
“It’s our money, and we want it. My opinion is do whatever you have to do to get the money. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re just getting something that is owed to us. It’s for the students. It’s not a whole lot of money, but it’s money we could use for educational purposes,” said LSSD board chair Steve Jones.
The Wilson County school board will need to agree to the terms of the new offer before it proceeds.
By Xavier Smith