Steve Brown

Steve Brown

The Hendersonville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 10-3 to start the process of borrowing $5.9 million for the relocation of inline hockey rinks, a new fire hall and equipment for the new fire hall last Tuesday.

The original capital outlay note was for $6.51 million. However, BOMA removed funding for fire department air packs on the understanding that money for these would have to come from a grant or be included in next year’s budget.

The inline hockey rinks make up $2.5 million of the capital outlay note. These have to be moved since they are situated in a floodplain and have been destroyed twice, said Andy Gilley, parks director.

When they were first built, they were not situated in a floodplain; however, the geography has changed and the rinks were destroyed in 2010 and 2019. Gilley said that insurance has given money twice to rebuild, but that they will not do that again.

The two new rinks will be located at Volunteer Park and are supposed to be covered, although that is a topic of much discussion by BOMA. The covered rinks can be used for inline hockey, box lacrosse and soccer activities, Gilley said. He also said the City could use them as a space to host a large dinner or other events, a space they currently do not own.

Ward 3 Alderman Arlene Cunningham said the City had commitments in writing from four leagues that would hold tournaments in Hendersonville once the City had constructed the covered rinks.

A new fire hall makes up $2.5 million of the capital outlay note, and equipment for the new fire hall makes up $800,000 of the note.

There is a possibility that Sumner County and Hendersonville could enter into a partnership with the new fire hall, Ward 4 Alderman Steve Brown, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said at the BOMA meeting.

The county would pay for a large amount, up to $2.5 million, for the construction of Fire Hall 7, and the City would take over a portion of the Shackle Island Volunteer Fire Department’s service area, although nothing is in writing yet.

The new fire hall would cover Ward 6 in the Durham Farms area, said Scotty Bush, fire chief.

He said the area has a response time of 9.5-10 minutes currently, which is not adequate. The goal is a 4.5-minute response time.

The process, which has been in the works for over a year, still has a way to go, but Brown and Bush thought the partnership would work out.

“It’s more cost-effective for the county if they don’t have to continue to supply money to a volunteer fire department over the years,” Brown said.

The capital outlay resolution was sponsored by several aldermen, including Cunningham, Peg Petrelli (Ward 1), Pat Campbell (Ward 2), Russ Edwards (Ward 3), and Steve Brown (Ward 4).

The capital outlay note, which has been considered in committees for a few months, was not originally on BOMA’s agenda. It had been taken off the agenda from the prior meeting so that Cunningham, the Finance Committee chairwoman could get clarification on the air packs. She said that adding it back at this meeting was the appropriate time.

“When I took it off the last meeting, I made a comment that it should be in our next regularly scheduled meeting,” she said.

Mayor Jamie Clary and other BOMA members expressed concern that the resolution had been added to what was referred to as a “lame-duck session” before the newly elected BOMA members could have a say.

Clary said he had a problem with the fact that there was no money for roads in the capital outlay note, a key issue in the election. Long term borrowing isn’t normally used for projects with shorter lifespans like roads, but it has been done in Hendersonville before.

“It's been done before, and it's completely appropriate,” Clary said. “I don’t like doing it, but it has been done before.”

Cunningham said that the current budget had an allocation of $2.88 million for supplemental paving when combining supplemental paving, state aid money and money from developers that can be used for paving and street improvements.

“We have planned money still to be spent on paving which hasn’t been spent yet,” she said.

Next Steps

This resolution is only to start the borrowing process. The resolution that passed is required by Tennessee law and has given Robert Manning, city finance director, the approval to start looking for lending institutions. Once a lending institution has been decided on, BOMA still has to go through two readings of an ordinance where they appropriate the money.

“If the board wanted to, they would just need to vote on a separate set of items that they would prefer between now and then, and that would be perfectly acceptable,” Manning said. “We would send that along to the comptroller as an addendum, and it would not hold up the borrowing process unless they voted to delay it.”

The comptroller makes sure that the City is acting in a legal manner as they start looking for lending institutions. Manning said that the state comptroller’s approval is good for about six months usually.

If BOMA decided to borrow an amount less than $5.9 million it would not stop the process, Manning said. However, increasing the borrowing amount would take a new resolution to start the process over. If BOMA would like to lessen the borrowing amount or change the list of borrowed items, they can simply amend the original resolution and add it to the agenda.

Manning said he hoped to have a lender by the Jan. 12 meeting. However, there is a BOMA and finance committee meeting scheduled before then that could halt or change the process.

Manning said that he thought $20 million as a total debt is BOMA’s capacity currently. With this capital outlay note, the City’s debt will be at $17.6 million with a yearly payment of around $2.7 million.

Hendersonville currently has six outstanding debt instruments, including one bond and five capital outlay notes. The last debt instrument is set to be paid off in 2030. This capital outlay note would be paid off in 2033.

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