Oneonta council and school board meet

Members of Oneonta City Council and Oneonta City Board of Education met in an April 1 work session to discuss collaboration on athletic facilties and other related issues. City manager/ economic developer Ed Lowe reports the meeting emerged from his and councilman Danny Robinson’s prior visit to a school board meeting.

School board leaders have examined the possibility of renovated or expanded athletic facilities. Councilor Nathaniel Butler had approached Lowe about the possibility of providing new soccer fields for that growing program.

With that as background, Lowe advised Butler the most likely solution he envisioned for the city athletic situation would be a bond issue to finance a totally new complex. When Butler asked of that, Lowe said the first step entailed leveraging a bond payment source.

From that, Lowe eyed the more than $200,000 the city provides the school annually in discretionary income (4 percent of the city’s non-designated sales tax and a quarter of the city’s beer tax). At the April meeting, Lowe proposed the city deed all its property south of the local Jack’s restaurant adjacent to present school lands. To offset that cession, the board would release the city from the aforementioned funding.

Speaking with The Blount Countian, Lowe, councilman Richard Phillips, and board president Don Maples labeled the session as productive, but a first step toward possible future collaboration. None appeared to believe the noted proposal acceptable to the parties as presently outlined.

Lowe said board members had indicated they have committed the $200,000 funds toward added teacher units. He also noted the board might have problems with maintenance costs for the pool, ball fields, tennis courts, and Depot.

Phillips reports he has requested the city hire consultants to examine longrange plans and possibilities, including the pool and Depot. Maples, who has served on both the council and board, said, “We’re trying to work together. We both have needs and fiscal restraints and are trying to meet these in a collaborative way.”

Phillips said Mayor Ross Norris had spoken of a follow up meeting within a couple of weeks or so. Lowe indicated that a time has not been set for further discussions.

Councilman Hal Blackwood and board member Stephen Anderton missed the meeting. All other members attended. Guests identified as attending besides Lowe, included: superintendent Daniel Smith, employees Keith Bender and Kathy Loggins, park and recreation board members Donald Bradley and Marla Smith, and resident Doug Sharp.