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Budgeters discusses Harding Drive rental agreement

Xavier Smith • Updated Dec 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM

The Wilson County Budget Committee discussed a potential agreement between the Wilson County Election Commission and Wilson County Board of Education after some commissioners questioned the necessity of the deal. 

The agreement would allow the election commission to use space in the new Wilson County Central Office once renovations are completed at the Harding Drive facility.

The election commission, under a six-year agreement, would use the space for archive storage that is currently stored in undesirable locations, as well as for training and meetings. 

The election commission would utilize the old gymnasium space in the old Lebanon High School, but Wilson County Finance Director Aaron Maynard said it would cost $307,500 to renovate the area to bring it up to standards. The Wilson County school board did not include the section of the old school in its renovation plans. 

Maynard recommended using funds from the special purpose tax fund, which can only be used for educational purposes. The fund has $6 million, according to Maynard, and the renovation wouldn’t harm the fund. 

Maynard said he believed the funds could be used from the special purpose tax funds since the portion of the building will be dedicated to educational purposes once the election commission vacates the space. 

Commissioner Sue Vanatta questioned whether there was going to be a county-owned building vacated somewhere that could house the equipment. Commissioner Gary Keith said he was looking at property and buildings for about two years and hasn’t found anything at the right size at a convenient location. 

The equipment is currently stored at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and Keith said the commission needs about 9,000 square feet suitable for a meeting room and training center. 

“I’ve met with the school system. I’ve met with [Wilson County Administrator of Elections Phillip Warren]. I’ve met with them together. Everybody is agreeable on the plans and terms of the lease, along with the security lights, parking lot that’s available to them, especially during training,” Keith said. 

“If we don’t do this and take advantage of letting the Election Commission use it, they’re still going to come back and want to finance something or get finances to finish the building,” Commissioner Mike Justice said. 

Commissioner Wendell Marlowe said the situation is similar to Wilson County Emergency Management Agency building fire stations at the corner of Lakeview and Gladeville elementary schools. 

“WEMA didn’t buy that corner property,” Marlowe said. 

The group approved the agreement, and county attorney Mike Jennings said he would research and determine the appropriate fund for the project. Vanatta voted against the plans, and said she would prefer a deferral for more research on potential sites.

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