VOL. 129 | NO. 184 | Monday, September 22, 2014
County Commission Starts School Bond Process
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Commissioners vote Monday, Sept. 22, on a resolution that is the first step in issuing $120 million in general obligation bonds over the next two years to finance “public works projects, including schools,” according to the resolution.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration is developing a specific debt issuance strategy that includes the timing based on cash flow requirements “particularly for the school projects” and market conditions. The administration will also seek approval from state officials.
If the commission approves the initial authorization on Monday’s agenda, there would be a second resolution to come for specific debt issuance in three to six months.
The commission meets at 3 p.m. at the Vasco Smith Administration Building, 160 N. Main St. Follow the meeting @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols.
Some of the bond financing would go toward capital projects in all seven of Shelby County’s public school systems. The commission in May approved $52.1 million in capital funding for the projects, including a new Westhaven Elementary School in Whitehaven that would replace the existing Westhaven Elementary and also the nearby Fairley and Raineshaven elementary schools.
Several of the suburban school districts have also started the planning process for new construction.
The other big-dollar item on Monday’s agenda is a $29.8 million four-year contract between the county and the state Health Department for the federally funded Women, Infants and Children and Commodity Supplemental Food programs. The programs feed 25,000 families in Shelby County. The contract would start Oct. 1 if approved.
Meanwhile, the commission continues to settle into its duties and organization after being elected in August and taking office this month.
Commission chairman Justin Ford’s slate of picks to head the commission’s 14 standing committees goes to the body for approval.
Ford has retained Heidi Shafer as chairwoman of the budget and finance committee; Terry Roland as chairman of land use planning, transportation and code enforcement; and Steve Basar as economic development and tourism committee chairman. Melvin Burgess returns as chairman of the audit committee.
Roland is also chairman of the legislative affairs committee.
Mark Billingsley chairs the law enforcement committee, with Walter Bailey as chairman of hospitals and health and David Reaves as head of the education committee.
Eddie Jones is chairman of community services committee as well as delinquent tax property, Willie Brooks is chairman of conservation, with Reginald Milton leading the core city, neighborhoods and housing committee.
George Chism is chairman of the public works committee, and Van Turner is chairman of the general government committee.
The slate of committee assignments is expected to win approval and avoid last year’s skirmish among commissioners over then-chairman James Harvey’s appointment of Shafer to head the budget committee.
Committees recommend action on items by the full 13-member commission, but those recommendations are not binding. If enough commissioners are present for a committee session, a committee vote can be a good indication of how a majority of the body may vote.
The committees meet Wednesdays before the twice-monthly Monday meetings of the full commission.
Also on Monday’s agenda is a transfer of seven Head Start centers from the Head Start program to Shelby County Schools.
Earlier this year, the school system was awarded the federal contract for the early childhood services, which county government had run in the past but opted not to apply for going forward.
The transfer is for “nominal consideration” from the school system because it is for a “public purpose found by Shelby County government to be directly or indirectly beneficial to the citizens of Shelby.”