Mayor Karl Dean isn’t the only one who thinks there are legal issues with Metro Councilman Duane Dominy’s bill to preserve the city-owned fairgrounds.
Metro Council attorney Jon Cooper issued an analysis on Thursday citing “a number of legal and technical problems” with Dominy’s ordinance, which is set to go before the council on the second of three votes next Tuesday.
The ordinance would essentially reassign the mission of Metro’s Board of Fair Commissioners. The board, as outlined in the legislation, would not be allowed to sell or lease the 117-acre property until the city purchases another site on which to hold the Tennessee State Fair, expo center events and auto racing.
Typically, Cooper reviews bills before they make it onto the council’s agenda. In this case, Dominy admittedly submitted his bill at the last minute so as not to show his hand.
Cooper cites several legal or technical issues that he recommends be fixed via amendments prior to the bill’s second reading. Contacted by The City Paper, Dominy indicated he’s willing to make any necessary changes.
“If there’s amendments that need to be done, we’ll pursue those,” Dominy said. “That’s perfectly fine.”
Cooper raises the following issues:
• The ordinance would prohibit the fair board from leasing or selling the fairgrounds property unless property of a similar size, location and value is acquired by the board. But Cooper says this is problematic because the fair board does not and cannot actually own property. “Rather, all such property must be owned in the name of [Metro].”
• The fair board does not have the authority to sell or transfer the fairgrounds property in the manner contemplated in the ordinance. “Only the council can authorize the sale or transfer of government-owned property.”
In addition, Cooper says the council already approved $2 million to build a 40-acre park at the fairgrounds site. The park is outlined in Dean’s capital spending plan, which the council approved unanimously.
Cooper also says Dominy’s ordinance fails to include a mechanism for funding fairgrounds operations if revenues generated by the facilities are insufficient.
“Presumably, the council would need to make a supplemental appropriation from the undesignated fund balance of the general fund in the event of a shortfall at the fairgrounds once the fairgrounds reserve fund has been depleted,” Cooper writes.