Council attorney has ‘problems’ with Dominy’s fairgrounds bill

Friday, November 12, 2010 at 2:45pm

In a strategic maneuver in September, Metro Councilman Duane Dominy submitted his bill to preserve the Metro-owned fairgrounds at the last minute. Back then, the Antioch councilman, who’s become a champion of fairgrounds preservationists, suggested that he made the move to prevent Mayor Karl Dean and his administration from sniffing out his intentions.

“When I was playing sports, you did not go tell the opposing team what your plays were going to be,” Dominy said last month, explaining the move before the council. “You do what you can to make sure that there’s a fighting chance for your team.”

Typically, council attorney Jon Cooper has time to review bills and check their legal syllogism, but Dominy’s ordinance went more or less untouched.

With the bill poised to go before the council on the second of three votes this week, Cooper scrutinized its language, placed it in context with Metro law and issued an official legal analysis late last week. Saying what most had predicted, Cooper wrote, “There are a number of legal and technical problems with this ordinance in its present form.”

What this means for Dominy’s bill, which the mayor’s office is intent on defeating, is still unclear. The bill could be amended in committee and changed prior to Tuesday. And the council could still approve the bill despite Cooper’s concerns.

“If there’s amendments that need to be done, we’ll pursue those,” Dominy told The City Paper. “That’s perfectly fine.”

Some of the problems seem fixable. But Cooper’s analysis goes further, highlighting flaws that, while not centered on questions of legality, could nonetheless become problematic.

Cooper noted that the Metro Council has already approved Dean’s capital spending plan, which sets aside $2 million for a new 40-acre park along Browns Creek at the fairgrounds property.

Cooper also wrote that Dominy’s ordinance does not provide a mechanism for funding fairgrounds operations if revenues generated by its facilities are insufficient to cover expenses. If the bill is approved, Cooper believes the council would need to make a supplemental appropriation from Metro’s undesignated fund balance if there’s a revenue shortfall. 

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