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City rejects Driver Center funding
The city voted not to fund the Driver Testing Center on Vervilla Road on Tuesday.

The Driver Testing Center could be closing its doors for good July 1 after McMinnville officials failed to approve an agreement that would have kept the doors open.
“I will notify the state that the Driver License Center will closing July 1,” said McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley.
Haley’s statement came after a tie vote rejected a state-approved agreement for the city to pay $4,000 a month in rent for up to two more years, while the state pays all other expenses during that time.
Haley and Aldermen Kate Alsbrook and Ryle Chastain voted to enter into the agreement and continue funding the facility. Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Aldermen Mike Neal and Steve Harvey voted against it.
Wording in the agreement was an area of contention, with Newman and Neal making two failed attempts at change.
Per the agreement: “The city shall commit funds to be paid to the state not to exceed $4,000/ month for a period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 with an automatic renewal through June 30, 2019 if state funding is not available.”
Newman’s first motion to amend was to strike everything after June 30, 2018 and add, “provided that Warren County, Tennessee, approve the proper resolution to reimburse the city for one-half of each monthly payment in its place.”
Haley warned any changes to the agreement would have to be approved by the state and could push the measure past the June 30 deadline and could result in the center’s closure.
“The state of Tennessee had to approve this ordinance before we could vote on it tonight,” said Haley. “If we amend it, they will have to approve it again. Making a change would require another month and the center will close July 1.”
Haley urged the board to approve the measure unchanged on first read and if Warren County commissioners fail to approve funding this Monday, the city can reject the agreement with the state on second read June 27.
Harvey voiced hesitation in entering another agreement with the state.
“I feel like that two years from now this board, and whoever is sitting on it, will be sitting here voting on this exact same thing,” said Harvey.
Haley state, “I don’t think anyone would expect to do this again.”
“When we approved it the first time, we said they wouldn’t expect us to do it again,” said Harvey. “I was kind of on the fence about it then. This isn’t really our job to do this. I sure didn’t feel like I would continue it on after this period.”
The motion drew support from Neal, but it failed 4-2.
Newman’s second motion attempted to remove “with automatic renewal through June 30, 2019 if state funding is not available” which would shorten the contract to one year only.
“This ties us into two additional years,” said Newman. “I’m on the fence, at this point, to doing an additional year. Like Mr. Harvey said, we thought we would do this for one year and the state would get its funding in order but that hasn’t happened. If we vote on this as presented, we are agreeing on two additional years.”
The motion drew support from Neal, but it failed 4-2.
State Rep. Paul Sherrell urged officials to continue funding the facility and stated his belief that funding for the center was pulled by the state because he and state Sen. Janice Bowling and state Rep. Judd Matheny voted against Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax.
“I have a fear that if it ever does leave then it will never come back,” said Sherrell. “There’s a possibility of why this has happened is because of myself, Janice Bowling and Judd Matheny all voted against the gas tax. Now, is that why this has happened? I don’t known. I’m asking you if you can see to try and support this one more time and hopefully we can work toward something to resolve this problem.”
When the original measure failed in a tie vote, Haley voiced his disapproval.
“I respect our board and its decisions that involve the citizens of McMinnville in finances,” said Haley. “It’s unfortunate what the state has done. It’s a valuable service that our citizens deserve and require. It’s going to take hours out of people’s work schedules, particularly for students driving and getting their learner’s permit. Parents are going to have to take 2-3 days off from work to go to Murfreesboro and make appointments. For about a $1 a citizen, we could have saved the Drivers License Center. It’s unfortunate that things have happened. July 1 the Drivers License Center will be closing. It’s been a long hard battle.”