The Tansi Sewer Utility District wants to move forward with negotiations for ownership of a sewer line currently serving Brown Elementary School and owned by the Cumberland County Board of Education.
Jim Heath, board member for TSUD, said last Wednesday, "We need to move forward on the process of getting Brown school as part of our customer base."
Heath proposes guaranteeing the school system the same rates they currently pay the city of Crossville for sewer service at the school for a period of 15 months and that no increase would be more than 10 percent to help the school system plan its yearly budget. He also said the district would take over the cost of maintaining and servicing the line and cover the cost of connecting the line to the TSUD system and any legal costs associated with transferring ownership of the line.
Mike Dalton, board member for TSUD, questioned moving forward with those negotiations when it was possible the district could be dissolved as part of pending lawsuits.
"We're in a quandary in my opinion," he said. "We need to try and promote this and generate revenue as much as we can. But we also have a lawsuit that could conceivably dissolve us. If we proposed this to the school board and they accepted it, I would be surprised, based on the scenarios we're involved in right now.
"I couldn't, in good conscience, do this because of the variables."
Heath said he assumed negotiations with the school system could take several months.
"Again, it's a matter of, do we sit here another six months before we start? Or, do we start and hope it will go forward?" he said.
He said it may be necessary to negotiate with the school system and a third party. However, the line would not only bring the school onto the system as a customer, but would provide sewer service to homes and businesses along Dunbar Rd. where the line is located.
Herb Pallatt, president of the board, said, "No one knows how this will be resolved. I'm of the opinion we do as much as we can to generate revenue. It's prudent to make this proposal."
The sewer line runs from the school, south of Tansi, along Dunbar Rd., connecting to the city of Crossville sewer line at Shadberry Dr. The school is the only customer on the line, which the school system installed at its expense. The BOE discussed the possibility of negotiating with TSUD at its September meeting, but consensus was to wait.
At that meeting, concerns were raised regarding rates and reliability of service for the school. There was also concern about the size of the sewer line, which one member said may not be adequate to handle increased volume.
"My concern is, that is not a big line," Sandy Brewer, 3rd District representative to the BOE, said at that September meeting. Brewer is also general manager of South Cumberland Utility District, which worked with the school system on installation of the line to ensure it was installed away from water lines. "I could not support this unless it was guaranteed Brown Elementary would at no time be jeopardized by the volume that could go through the line."
There was also concern about ongoing court challenges facing the district.
Heather moved to approve moving forward with negotiations with the school system, supported by Pallatt. They noted any final resolution would have to come before the board again.
Dalton recommended contacting the city of Crossville for their thoughts and to see if they would agree to step in in the future and service the school again should that become necessary.
The board also approved payment of $44,000 for construction of sewer line extensions on Shoshone Loop and payment of $675 in legal fees to Don Scholes. The Scholes payment is for legal fees incurred in the last six months. Scholes previously agreed to hold off pressing for payment of legal fees from when the district was first set up until the district was firmly established.