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Park Theatre funding decision explained
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Why can’t McMinnville obligate funding for the Park Theatre at the same time a company is hired to prepare documents?
Officials tried to do just that in March, but were stopped by legal counsel.
“Mayor (Norman) Rone requested that I clarify and expand on the opinion that I expressed at the last meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to the motion by Alderman (Jimmy) Haley regarding funding of the Park Theatre project,” said city attorney Tim Pirtle in a letter given to each board member.
In March, officials were considering a resolution to enter into a contract with AEI Architects, Engineers and Planners to prepare plans, specifications and bid documents for renovating the Park Theatre.
At that time, Haley wanted to attach an amendment to the resolution to also fund restoration, which has been loosely estimated as costing up to $2 million. Haley’s concern was the board would pay $80,000 for the documents, then fail to ultimately fund the project.
Pirtle interjected with, “You simply can’t do it. There is a procedure you have to follow that’s in black and white and you have to stick to it. It’s the law.”
In clarifying, Pirtle says if officials do not follow the state’s debt policy guidelines, that break in policy will eliminate any chance the city has to obtain funding.
“The debt policy adopted by the city of McMinnville in compliance with state and federal law cannot be circumvented or bypassed. Any action taken in violating of the debt policy would not be approved by the comptroller and would be rendered ineligible for general sources of borrowing by municipalities, such as Tennessee Municipal League Bond Fund.”
The following process must be followed:
• Contract with a company to generate plans, specifications, and bid documents for the project.
• Offer a competitive bidding process on the project.
• Initiate contracting process with the lowest, but best, bid received.
• Public disclosure of the proposed debt, which includes public meetings.
• Finally, approval by the state Comptroller of the Treasury and the local board.
Comptroller of the Treasury is charged with monitoring, auditing, and approving fiscal management, including debt management, for municipalities in Tennessee. Any obligation of the city subject to funding from tax revenues must be submitted to the comptroller for its approval.
“Only after the completion of this process will the city be authorized to obligate tax revenues generated from its citizens to payment of the debt that it incurs to fund this project,” said Pirtle.
AEI representatives said the time frame for the project would be around six months for the design phase and eight to nine months for construction. The entire project, which began in March, will be 15 to 16 months, if the bid process and fund approval go smoothly.