By a 23-1 vote Monday night, Putnam County Commissioners approved a $98 million bond proposal to fund jail expansion and a new K-8 school.
Commissioners spent very little time debating the proposals Monday night, which have been discussed for several years. Only District Four Commissioner Theresa Tayes voted no. Commissioner Cindy Adams cited a concern with maxing out the bond capacity.
“As a person who doesn’t borrow money myself, it makes me a little sick to my stomach,” Adams said. “To borrow $98 million and pay back probably $123 million or $125 million, who knows how much. A lot of millions of dollars.”
Adams said that because of the clear need for a new school and a new jail she would vote yes despite her trepidation.
Commissioner Joe Iwanyszyn asked about the additional staffing needs necessary for both projects. Mayor Randy Porter said that while Park View’s faculty and staff would move to the new school, it would still require additional employees. He said that decisions surrounding additional personnel would happen in some three years when the school was closer to opening.
The new school will double Park View’s current capacity to accommodate some 1,000 students. In expanding the jail, the county would be able to gain an additional 683 beds.
Sheriff Eddie Farris said that the jail would require about a 25 percent increase in operation management for the first year.
“That’s what history shows us over the last three or five years that jails have been built in Tennessee,” Farris said. “Usually initially right off the bat, we see about a 25 percent increase.”
Farris said that 25 percent increase would include personnel, food, and medical costs.
Porter said he wants the bond issue to get to market as soon as possible. He said these projects are something the county has worked on for years, and that it’s a good time to get them issued because of attractive rates.
The bond was set to include some $44.7 million for the new K-8 school, located off Lee Seminary Road, and $52.7 million for the jail expansion. The $98 million bond package would be financed at 1.8 percent with an estimated payment of $5.8 million per year.