Farragut Vice Mayor Mike Haynes and Mayor Eddy Ford Lead..The Others? Not So Much.

The best elected governmental theater in Knox County was held this evening in Farragut at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. First, during the Approval of the Agenda, Vice Mayor Haynes made a motion to delete the item for consideration to purchase 16.8 acres for public use including a possible school.

Vice Mayor Haynes pointed out the the town administrator, associate administrator and one Alderman, Tom Rossell had negotiated a purchase price of $1,300,000.00 with the current property owners. The Board of Mayor and Alderman had never approved for any negotiation to occur. The problem is the current property owners bought this property a few years ago for $427,500.00. The expert appraiser hired by the town appraised the value at $1,050,000.00 but Rossell wanted to spend $1,300,000.00 for this 16.8 acres. Dan Olson, Associate Administrator of the town indicated that he, the town administrator and Rossell had gone to the current property owners and gave them the appraisal, the current owners countered, the town countered and they settled on $1.3 million. When it looks like negotiations, when it sounds like negotiations it probably is negotiations.

There is an adjacent 20 acres for sale for $1.2 million. But, Rossell wants to spend $1.3 million for 16.8 acres. What?

So, the Town was prepared to pay a quarter of a million dollars over the appraised fair market value because Rossell simply wanted to. That is right $250,000.00 above the real market value for the property. It is a 300% increase from what the current owners paid a few years ago.

Mayor Ford asked town staff member Darryl Smith about a conversation they had about a member of the board asking if the appraiser would raise his appraisal. Smith indicated that Rossell asked about a re-appraisal. Mayor Ford then read an email that Rossell had sent about the appraiser not being willing to adjust the appraisal.

Vice Mayor Haynes pointed out that the town has condemned property in the past and has always paid fair market value. As Mayor Ford was preparing to speak. Alderman Williams attempted to interrupt with a point of order. Mayor Ford had the recorder read the motion. Williams point of order was ruled out of order.

The town staff reported the status of the current Capital Improvement Plan and how the town only spends about $2.0 million a year on Capital. This $1.3 will be devastating to the town’s capital plan. Williams tried a substitute motion to remove the cap of the fair market value. Williams pulled the substitute motion when it was revealed that Williams could be proposing a $2.0 million dollar land cost.

Bob Hill, Chairman of Farragut MPC spoke and said we (the town) have a process. That process has not been followed.

Ultimately, Williams made a motion to send the item to the FMPC for a priority listing. It passed unanimous.

School Board Member-Elect Bill Phillips spoke to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen about the fact that the school board would not be able to build this school in the future. This land will just be another piece of property off of Knox County’s property tax rolls. Phillips was warmly received and many people thanked him for driving from Corryton, TN to attend this meeting. When their own board member and the Knox County School Board Chair both live within 7 miles of Town Hall and did not attend tonight’s meeting.

Ultimately, a good decision came out of tonight’s meeting. However, it would not have been possible without the excellent leadership of Mayor Ford, Vice Mayor Haynes and School Board Member – Elect Bill Phillips.

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