County to send MOU about funding of Oak Ridge court

Seeks to recoup part of $1.3M cost of General Sessions II

The Anderson County Commission will send a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to the city of Oak Ridge regarding Anderson County General Sessions Court II.

The MOU is a way of asking Oak Ridge to pay for the court.

The motion was made by District 6 Commissioner Steve Meade Tuesday night during the monthly meeting of the Anderson County Commission. And it came with a 5-2 recommendation from the county’s Operations Committee, which passed the measure the previous Monday, Jan. 13.

The resolution passed as it was presented but faced two votes on its way to final approval.

District 7 Commissioner Teresa Scott made a motion to defer the MOU for 90 days to allow the Oak Ridge government time to look at the document and then come to the county.

“This is not something that’s new,” Meade said. ”The original state law that allows us to have that court in Oak Ridge clearly states the city of Oak Ridge shall supply the room and the room for the (court) staff.”

Meade pointed out that the court being located in Oak Ridge is a financial asset to the city.

He also added, “Since that time (when the court was located in the city), the city of Oak Ridge has clearly taken back (financial obligations).

“They (city of Oak Ridge) are required to pay for the building, support, and utilities. That’s not controversial, that was passed by state law.”

The motion to defer the motion for 90 days was defeated 7-7 with Commissioners Robert Jameson, Denver Waddell, Rick Meredith, Shain Vowell, Robert McKamey, Tim Isbel, and Meade voting “no.”

Commissioners Chuck Fritts and Bob Smallridge were not present at the meeting.

District 7 Commissioner Jerry Creasey then made a motion to amend the original motion and leave out specific dollar amounts.

District 5 Commissioner Robert McKamey, who seconded Meade’s original motion, said he had worked with Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager to reach a figure of $800,000.

“We put $1.3 million in that (court) of county taxpayer money when not one penny was supposed to be paid by the county,” McKamey said. “This (MOU) is to recoup part of that money, not all of it. … It’s a partnership.”

But Creasey said the MOU should not have a dollar amount assigned to it and that the Anderson County attorney and the Oak Ridge city attorney should negotiate the amount.

“I agree we need an agreement between the city of Oak Ridge and the county,” Creasey said.

“There are figures that need to be negotiated. Turn it over to the two attorneys until they reach a mutual agreement.”

Meade, however, said the dollar amounts needed to be part of the MOU.

“They (Oak Ridge officials) need to understand the scope of what we’re talking about,” he said.

The motion to take out dollar figures failed 8-6 with the two commissioners absent.

The motion to send the MOU— with dollar amounts — passed 9-5 with Tracy Wandell, Catherine Denenberg, Phil Yager, Creasey and Scott voting no.