Debate sparks over selling industrial property

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By Natasha Colbaugh

A prospective buyer of industrial property in Jellico has the board buzzing about what to do next.

During a special call meeting of the Jellico Board of Mayor and Aldermen last Wednesday, there was a discussion about how to keep the Taylor Machine Building from being tied up in legal transfer.

While many of the board members were eager to sell the property for the asking price of $350,000, Mayor Forster Baird was reluctant to sell the property for a variety of reasons.

“I want the city to keep control of it,” said Baird. “The problem I have is I don’t want somebody dictating what we do with it, keeping us from selling it.”

According to Baird, the prospective buyer has applied for permits required by the state and pending the approvals they would acquire the property and establish a company recycling used motor oil.

“But that’s not the only hurdle he’s got,” said Baird about the prospective buyers requirements before opening a business.

A solution to the pending sale was a purchase agreement being drawn up by the board’s attorney. The agreement would allow the town to sell the building to another buyer if the process exceeds a certain amount of time.

In addition to the asking price of the building, the board is requesting back taxes that would bring the overall amount closer to $400,000.

“I think ya’ll are making a mistake selling that property right now,” said Baird.

But Aldermen Mike Johnson and Alvin Evans supported the immediate sale, stating the sooner the building sells, the sooner the money will be acquired.

Two other companies are also showing interest in the building and may be prospective buyers given the possible failed attempt of the current acquisition, said Baird.

The item is scheduled for further discussion at the upcoming meeting. Another topic among the board was retroactive pay for city employees. When the board approved the budget after July 1, it included 25-cent raises for employees.

Since raises were enacted with the passage of the budget, pay increases for hours worked since July1 had to be paid.

Baird expressed his frustration at the board for giving raises where extra work was involved for administrative staff. According to Baird, the city recorder had to go back to the time cards and calculate the additional pay because of any overtime used by employees.

All employees will receive the retroactive pay for the salary increase as well as a seasonal bonus.

While paving was on the agenda for the special called meeting, the item has already received approval at a prior meeting, according to Johnson.

In other business, the board approved a $250 sponsorship of the Jellico High School golf program pending the approval of the town attorney. The attorney will clarify if schools have non-profit status.

Another item about allowing the Clear Fork Water Shed to hold a roadblock fundraiser was quickly dissolved. Johnson recommended the roadblock to the board, but during a discussion about the organization’s affiliation the board was seemingly uninterested in allowing the fundraiser.

Alderman John Davenport questioned if the organization was against surface mining, receiving affirmation about their anti- coal affiliation from other board members. After a brief discussion, Johnson made a motion to allow the roadblock but the motion died with lack of a second motion.

Lastly on the agenda, Johnson requested about $10,000 to purchase a pick up truck for the sanitation and street department. The board approved the motion.

The Jellico town board will meet in regular session on Thurs. Sept. 16, at 6:30 p.m.