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Blue Building offers should be public, Comptroller says
SS Blue Building
Blue Building

City officials must embrace open government in the process of selling the Blue Building, state officials say.

Tennessee Comptroller and MTAS were asked by the Southern Standard to weigh in on the city’s stance to seek written proposals to liquidate the Blue Building property and evaluate those proposals secretly, releasing them only after negotiations have been complete.

Tennessee Comptroller spokesman John Dunn says the city can use such a Request For Proposal process to sell real estate. 

“The city of McMinnville was formed under Title 6 Chapter 2 – Mayor and Aldermanic Chapter,” said Dunn. “The charter allows for the sale of real property. Our Office did not find anything regarding a required procedure to follow when selling property. Both our Office and MTAS concur that it appears the city could make the affirmative choice to sell property through a Request for Proposal process.”

However, Dunn says the city cannot prevent access to the proposals.

“We do not believe the city has correctly followed the MTAS interpretation that you cited in your article. There is confidentiality for when a city makes a purchase using sealed proposals; however, both our Office of General Counsel and CTAS believe that same confidentiality does not apply when the city is selling something; however, there may be other exceptions to the Public Records Act that might apply in this instance.”

Dunn’s email was received at close of business on Monday, Oct. 25. The newspaper’s verbal request last week to review the proposals was replaced with a formal open records request Tuesday morning.