The group agreed to enter into a 20-year funding agreement with the City of Lebanon with an annual payment of $25,000 for the airport. An amendment to the original resolution will seek to add a member from the Wilson County Commission to the Lebanon Airport Commission as a part of the agreement.
Several commissioners voiced concerns about committing funds to the airport without any representation on the board. The commissioners seemingly agreed that committing funds would benefit the entire county and continue a good relationship with the city.
“When I went over to speak to them, there was a local large distributor’s jet parked on the tarmac. The large distributor is not in the city of Lebanon. It’s in Mt. Juliet. This airport, you have to remember, is bringing in corporate executives for all over the county,” Commissioner Mike Justice said.
“That airport is the front door and the first thing these executives see when they come to Wilson County. We need to dress it up and be as professional as we can when we reap these professionals,” Commissioner Dan Walker said.
“My team does tallies on a daily basis of every person that comes into the airport, so we pretty much know that well over 50 percent – I can almost guarantee 75 percent – of the people are not coming in just for the city of Lebanon,” said Heather Bay, Lebanon Airport manager and Direct Flight Solutions owner.
Some commissioners questioned the possibility of a name change to include Wilson County in the title, but other commissioners and Bay said the process might not be worth it.
“There are so many levels and I have only started an ounce of the research today for you. There are so many certifications that have to be recertified with a new name change, also. I will continue to look into this for your behalf, but I can almost guarantee it will cost more than $25,000 alone to do this,” Bay said.
The body also approved a pair of Wilson County Schools budget amendments that will help the district near completion on the old Lebanon High School renovation project.
The school system will use approximately $1.3 million from its cafeteria fund to cover the portion of the Harding Drive renovation that will house the Food Service Department, particularly the cafeteria and kitchen.
The department currently pays $27,000 annually in rent and Wilson County Schools deputy director Mickey Hall said the money would only be used on the renovation of the area used by the department.
The system will also use approximately $4.6 million from reserves and growth money from the BEP increase to use for additional renovations at the facility.
“This has nothing to do with teacher pay raises or anything like that. This is money we didn’t know about when the budget process was going on that we were going to get. We didn’t know what our growth was for kids and we didn’t have any calculations from the state about what that number was going to be out of their budget,” Hall said earlier this month.
Hall said the money would roll back into the budget next year.
The old Lebanon High School will be converted to a new Wilson County Schools central office, which will house the adult high school, TVOLS, a director’s office, conference and training areas, extended-school program, textbook storage and board meeting room, among other things.