Wilson County approves $59-million bond

·3 min read

Sep. 22—Wilson County commissioners took one step closer to constructing new school campuses by approving a $59-million bond sale at their monthly meeting on Monday.

"The bond from Monday night was to finish out West Wilson Middle School and to purchase the sites of land for future schools, the one in the Glade and the one on Double Log Cabin Road," Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said.

The March 2020 tornado destroyed West Wilson Middle School and Stoner Creek Elementary School.

"When Stoner Creek and West Wilson were blown down, we filed with our insurance company," Hutto said. "They paid their portion. We took that portion and built back Stoner Creek. We added room for 400 extra students.

"Then, we worked toward West Wilson and added room for 400 more students there."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the damage incurred by the tornado, but the county is on the hook for the additional space and chairs at both schools.

"FEMA's goal is to come in and make people whole," Hutto said. "Whatever insurance doesn't cover, they get back to where you were. FEMA will only put back the original blueprint. They won't take care of the new space for students."

The bonds are issued for 20 years, but the county will have the option to pay it back after five, which local officials believe will be possible following the injection of FEMA dollars.

"We made this bond callable for five years so that when that money comes in, we can pay a lump sum on it," Hutto said.

"We didn't want to have that money sitting in the bank and not being able to pay off the loan."

The five-year call note does impact the interest rate on the bond. Wilson County Finance Director Aaron Maynard indicated that the total interest cost would be 3.4983%.

"One thing that affected us negatively is that we put a five-year call note on that bond," Maynard said. "We are going to try to pay that back with FEMA dollars from the tornado."

Budget, finance committees filledSince the September meeting represented the first official meeting of a new term for the county commission, some housekeeping was in order. A shuffling of several committee seats required an at-large vote by the commission.

The Wilson County Budget Committee includes four electees nominated by fellow county commissioners.

It takes 13 votes for someone to be elected since there are 25 individuals on the county commission.

Five names were nominated — Tommy Jones, Diane Weathers, Mike Kurtz, Wendell Marlowe, and Justin Smith, representing districts 14, 16, 21, 22, and 25, respectively.

Each county commissioner cast a ballot for four names out of the five. When the dust settled, Jones, Weathers, Marlowe and Smith had enough votes to secure a seat on the committee.

Like the budget committee, the Wilson County Finance Committee has four seats elected by the full commission. Also, like the budget committee, five commissioners were nominated for the four seats, requiring another vote.

County commissioners Robert Fields, Beth Bowman, Kevin Costley, John Gentry and Lauren Breeze, representing districts 1, 6, 8, 11 and 18, respectively, were nominated. After the ballot process, Fields, Bowman, Costley and Gentry received sufficient votes for the seats.

Commissioners elected to those committees will serve a one-year term.