County issues $8 million bond

First installment for youth sports complex
Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:17 AM

County Commission has issued a near $8 million bond to pay for its first installment on a new youth sports facility in Gatlinburg, an expansion of the minimum security wing of the jail and upgrades to the planned Lincoln Memorial University satellite facility in Sevierville.

The county entered into a memorandum of understanding on the youth sports facility recently with the City of Gatlinburg, saying it will pay 30 percent of the $20 million cost on a complex that include nine soccer fields and an indoor gym complex.

The project is expected to attract tournaments from around the region, and officials believe it will immediately start bringing in hundreds of thousand of dollars in annual revenues.

“I think the county thinks we’re going to get a substation return on investment,” County Mayor Larry Waters said.

The county will use $2 million from the bond to make its initial payment on the project. It will pay an additional $1 million each year from 2016 to 2019.

Another $4 million is set aside for an expansion of the minimum security wing of the Sevier County Jail.

That wing was designed with an expansion in mind when it was first built. The plans call for the addition of 128 beds this time, which will take it to the full size included in the original loans.

Waters said population at the facility has averaged 100 prisoners higher than its current capacity in recent months, meaning the facility will already be near capacity when it is completed.

While the county is issuing bonds for $7.75 million total, Waters said he hopes the total cost of the jail expansion will be closer to $3.5 million.

The remaining money will be used for work including a $1 million for upgrades to plans for the Lincoln Memorial University facility planned for construction near the King Family Library. The county has already issued a $4.5 million bond for that project, but officials on both sides recently discussed the proposed improvements. The school is expected to pay enough rent to cover the county’s debt service on the facility.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com