Commission Passes No Tax Increase Capital Projects List That Will Address Education, Public Safety, and Economic Development

The Lawrence County Board of Commissioners met in special session on August 20th to consider a list of capital projects for the upcoming fiscal year. The Commission voted 11-6-1 to approve funding for the projects at the meeting. The projects, which are spread out all over the county, will make large investments in the vital areas of public education, public safety, and economic development.


Phase 1 of the capital projects list includes:

  • the purchase of new patrol cars for our sheriff’s department
  • the purchase of a new ambulance and power cots for EMS
  • additional funding for the new higher education center
  • long-needed renovations to various county facilities
  • improvements to the solid waste facility
  • funding for school expansions to address overcrowding and allow for the implementation of the middle school concept


Funding for the new higher education center will help cover the cost of construction and furnishings for the facility. At the end of the day, the higher education center will have been funded by the State of Tennessee, Lawrence County Government, the City of Lawrenceburg and private donations. Once open, local students will have the opportunity to earn a four-year degree in Lawrence County through various entities such as Columbia State, Tennessee Tech and MTSU. Columbia State will be the main tenant in the new facility and will pay the county to lease the facility each year. Other entities such as Tennessee Tech and MTSU will then sign yearly facility agreements with Columbia State and will pay them directly for leasing space.

The local school projects included in this phase are requests that were made by the Lawrence County School System earlier this year. The projects will accomplish two big goals: eliminating overcrowding at Summertown and EO Coffman and allowing every part of the county to transition to the middle school concept now, which will allow the school system to teach students more advanced and targeted curriculum and skills earlier in their education. The commission ended up giving the school system almost $3 million more than they initially requested. 

LCSS Budget Presentation to County Commission June 2019 page 0018

(A breakdown of the projects as proposed by the school system earlier this year)

As you may remember, the county’s long-term goal has been building new high schools in Loretto and Summertown, which would also help accomplish moving to the middle school setup. However, last year, due to soaring construction costs, bids for the new schools came in at $40 million each, much higher than anticipated. If the county were to go this route right now, it would take an additional $200 on the wheel tax each year to fund construction, which is not realistic in the eyes of most county leaders. By funding these projects right now at SummertownEO Coffman and South Lawrence, we can accomplish this goal without raising taxes, while still proactively planning for new schools down the road.

Phase 2 of the capital projects will involve funding for the proposed proving grounds (automotive test track) that has been discussed in recent months. Recently, a study was done to determine the feasibility of such a project for Lawrence County and the results were favorable. For the project to now move forward, local leaders will request the state to fund approximately $130 million for the project in the next legislative session. If that does indeed happen, Lawrence County will use $8 million for the purchase of properties for the test track. If the project is not funded by the state and the project does not materialize, county funds will then be used for the construction of a new gym facility for Loretto High School.  A new Loretto gym was initially approved back in 1997 but funding was later cut after the overrun of construction costs in other school projects at the time. The current gym was constructed in 1948 and is one of the oldest operating gyms in the state. 

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