Tennessee County Ends Contract with Rural/Metro

LOUDON – The Loudon County Commission on Monday wrapped up its last regular meeting of the year addressing several controversial topics that will set the stage for discussion next year.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an agreement that would terminate Loudon County’s emergency and nonemergency transportation services contract with Rural/Metro Ambulance Service.

The contract was originally scheduled to end in December of 2015. However, during a County Commission workshop meeting several weeks ago, Rural/Metro officials asked to be let out of the current contract because it was no longer economically viable for the company.

County Mayor Buddy Bradshaw said he will be working with Rural/Metro to manage the transition to a new ambulance service in the coming year. He said the county has already received four responses to its request for proposals from ambulance companies seeking to provide service.

The County Commission also heard an update on the issue of about 400 delinquent lots in Tellico Village. The county has been at odds with the Tellico Village Property Owners Association for several years over back property taxes owed.

Loudon County was originally going to sell these lots in a delinquent taxes sale. Officials, however, balked at the move when it was discovered that under state law, if the lots did not sell, the property would belong to the county, which would then be responsible for up to $500,000 in annual property owners association fees. A Chancery Court judge approved of the county’s move.

The commission received a copy of a letter from the Tellico Village organization asking for continuing negotiations and decrying rumors that suggested the homeowners association was trying to leverage the county into paying past dues and even demanding a $1.4 million payment to pay off the debt to the Tellico Village library.

County Commissioner Van Shaver said he believes the deal to pay off the library was placed on the table. He doesn’t understand why the property owners association is backing off the proposal.

“Somebody is lying. I want everyone involved in one room so we can lock the door until we figure out who is lying,” Shaver said.

Winston Blazer, general manager of Tellico Village, said as far as he’s concerned he and representatives from the county are still in discussions and an agreement is being worked on.

“We’re confused about what is happening,” he said.

Shaver responded that the only thing to be worked out was the property owners association dues.

“If they waive the POA fees we will put the lots into the next tax sale. We’ll even have a special sale for those lots,” he said.

Commissioners on Monday also addressed the issue of paying for the next phase of the school building program. The county recently finished phase one of the program. The next phase, which targets improvements at Loudon High School and traffic problems at North Middle School, is projected to cost about $10 million.

Mayor Bradshaw said he has been working with county financial advisers to review possible terms. He said he wants to go with a fixed interest rate of 2.7 percent to borrow the money. A variable rate of 2.17 percent was available.

Commissioners Shaver and David Meers said they agreed that the fixed rate was the way to go, with Meers pointing to a Wall Street Journal article this week that predicted rising interest rates in the coming years.

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