Decision to add Smiths Station schools to city on hold

The Lee County school board has decided to wait a month before considering petitioning Smiths Station city government to annex the property around three schools into the city.

The board tabled the action requesting that Smiths Station High, Smiths Station Intermediate and Smiths Station Elementary become part of the city because of questions members had about the possibility of an occupational tax and plans Smiths Station might have to create its own city school system.

"I think everybody will feel a lot better," said board member Larry Boswell. "Delaying a month will give Dr. Nowlin the opportunity to talk to the city of Smiths Station."

Board attorney Bill Horsley said Smiths Station city government drafted a resolution stating they wouldn't impose an occupational tax on workers who lived outside city limits but worked inside the city. The chances that the city might create its own school system are also slim, interim superintendent Steve Nowlin said.

However, both situations are only good for as long as current council members are in office. "It does give you a guarantee for a while," Nowlin said.

When the city was incorporated in 2001, state law required that the incorporated area be divided into 40-acre quadrants, with at least 60 percent of the residents and four registered votes in each quadrant requesting incorporation before the election.

There were no residents or voters in the quadrants containing the high, intermediate and elementary schools, so those quadrants were left out of the city map.

Nowlin said before the board approved anything, they needed to decide how becoming part of the city would benefit them.

"If it's just being a good neighbor and that's OK (with the board)," he said. "It might end up benefiting the system."