Loudon County hears from Sessions Court judge candidates
Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
Loudon County Commission has taken the first steps toward appointing a second General Sessions Court judge to serve on the bench until the 2016 election.
Commissioners voted 8-2 earlier this month to establish a second judge following a request by Sessions Court Judge Rex Dale, who said despite his long hours he was unable to keep up with the volume of cases.
Three applicants have submitted resumes for the new judicial position. The commission heard from two of the applicants Monday.
Hank Sledge, currently working in the office of judicial commissioner, told commissioners he had more than 17 years of experience practicing law, including several years with the district attorney general's office handling child support enforcement.
Porsche Shantz has been practicing law for 20 years. She told commissioners she had a range of legal experience that included working in private practice and for the court system. She has also worked as a capital case attorney for two appellate courts.
Amanda Smith Jolliff of Nashville also submitted a resume but did not appear before the commission. Commissioner Van Shaver questioned whether Jolliff met the requirements of living in the district for at least one year.
Commissioners will be able to question the candidates before voting at their August meeting. To be considered for a vote the candidates must be nominated by at least one commissioner.
Commission also heard a proposal from Pat Phillips, president of the Loudon County Economic Development Agency, that would end a tax dispute between the county and the city of Loudon and the Tate and Lyle Co., one of the largest taxpayers in the county.
Tate and Lyle contested its tax assessment in 2011, requesting a reduction in valuation from $72 million to $30 million. The county won the initial case, but the company has appealed.
The payment-in-lieu- of-taxes proposal was approved by the Loudon City Council in a 3-2 vote last month and must still pass County Commission.
The plan would allow Tate & Lyle to pay the city and county a combined $2 million a year for 10 years. The company currently pays about $2.2 million per year in taxes. The multinational company also would withdraw the tax appeal and agree not to appeal for the next 10 years. The $2.9 million in back taxes held in escrow during litigation would be released to the municipalities.
Tate & Lyle is considering investing about $66 million in a 50-megawatt combined heat-and-power system that would provide power and free up the county's supply of natural gas for use by other companies, Phillips said.