August 07, 2019
Summary: Commissioners in Montgomery County, Tennessee are considering a variety of measures to secure financing for a new event center in downtown Clarksville. The $105 million project will host hockey, basketball, concerts and convention events.
Montgomery County commissioners, who voted earlier this year to buy downtown Clarksville property for a proposed $105 million multipurpose events center, are scheduled to vote Monday night, Aug. 12, on another step in the MPEC development process.
Two resolutions on this month's commission agenda deal with issuing debt on the $7.5 million land purchase, and approving a bond issue to cover it.
The MPEC and the overall revitalization of downtown has been a major theme of County Mayor Jim Durrett's time in office thus far. He has called it a game changer for downtown, including potentially elevating its lagging tax base while providing a centrally-located venue for sports and entertainment options for the community.
But some residents are keeping up the drumbeat against it, including, for example, Steven Currie who spoke during the public comment period of this week's informal nonvoting commission meeting.
Currie calls the MPEC a "non-essential" county expense that the Durrett administration is pursuing and wants to see it placed on a public referendum ballot for all Montgomery County residents to decide.
Perhaps late this year, the Durrett administration will return to the 21 commissioners seeking the projected $98 million in construction funding for the MPEC.
Durrett is proposing a funding formula for the MPEC that de-emphasizes going to the property tax well, other than using a portion of the payments in lieu of taxes that a number of new companies in the area are scheduled to begin paying in the next few years.
Currie and other local opponents of the MPEC say that revenue stream should instead be directed to new schools and school debt in Clarksville-Montgomery County.
In a separate resolution Monday, commissioners are to vote on whether to borrow $4.3 million in capital outlay notes to pay for two capital projects the Durrett administration says the county can't pay for in cash with the new county property tax rate of $2.99 per $100 assessed value.
The two capital projects are the county's new Eastland Park, and a combination of expenses related to various building repairs and improvements in the schools