City could ask schools to delay ORHS debt payment changes

Oak Ridge City and School Officials

Oak Ridge officials discuss the school system's budget in this file photo. From left are Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, School Board Chair Keys Fillauer, City Manager Mark Watson, and Schools Superintendent Tom Bailey.

Oak Ridge school officials want to keep a few hundred thousand dollars raised each year under an Anderson County sales tax increase approved in 2006.

But city officials want to continue using the money to pay down the debt on the $66 million renovation of the Oak Ridge High School.

The financial tug-of-war is expected to continue tonight as City Council members decide whether to ask education officials to wait a year to allow further negotiations between the two sides.

City officials are considering an additional step: using money that would ordinarily be distributed to the schools to instead help pay down the high school debt. About $250,000 could be at stake.

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School board OKs change in ORHS debt payments

The school board has approved it, and the city council has rejected it. It’s not clear what will happen next.

At issue is a resolution unanimously approved by the Oak Ridge Board of Education on Monday and informally rejected by City Council a week earlier.

The resolution would allow the city’s school system to keep a portion of more than $700,000 in Anderson County sales tax revenues generated each year under a sales tax increase approved by voters in rural areas and Norris in 2006.

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Council rejects high school debt payment changes

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday informally rejected a high school debt repayment proposal that officials said could have cost property tax payers an extra $10 million during the next few decades.

The proposal would allow the schools to keep a portion of more than $700,000 in revenues generated by a 2006 increase in the Anderson County sales tax rate. Until recently, all the money had been used to help pay down the debt on the $66 million renovation of the Oak Ridge High School.

But, in a months-old dispute, school officials argue they ought to be able to keep that portion of the new county sales tax revenues generated outside the city of Oak Ridge.

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