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Melton v. City of Lakeland

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 5, 2019

CARY MELTON ET AL.
v.
CITY OF LAKELAND TENNESSEE ET AL.

          Session April 9, 2019

          Appeal from the Chancery Court for Shelby County No. CH-17-1772 Walter L. Evans, Chancellor

         This appeal involves the dismissal of a case based on mootness. The City of Lakeland and its Industrial Development Board passed various resolutions for the purpose of funding the construction of a new high school. Plaintiffs-a group of citizens of Lakeland-sued, arguing that the city lacked the statutory authority for the financing transaction. After Congress enacted the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the financing transaction increased in cost, and Lakeland and the Industrial Development Board repealed the resolutions. Thereafter, upon Lakeland's motion to dismiss, the trial court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims as moot. We affirm

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed and Remanded

          Robert L. J. Spence, Jr. and Bryan M. Meredith, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Cary Melton, Lillie Melton, James D. Abbott, William T. Mallard, Brian Tipler, Deborah Tipler, Christopher J. Smith, Melissa K. Smith, Heather Long, and James L. Murray, Jr.

          Chris Patterson and Will Patterson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Lakeland, Tennessee.

          Jeffrey C. Smith, Memphis Tennessee, for the appellee, Industrial Development Board of the City of Lakeland, Tennessee.

          Arnold B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which, John W. McClarty, and Kenny Armstrong, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ARNOLD B. GOLDIN, JUDGE

         Background and Procedural History

         Because there is no city high school in Lakeland, Tennessee, most high school-aged children residing in the area attend the neighboring Arlington High School. In 2014, the City of Lakeland ("the City") notified its residents that it intended to issue $50, 000, 000 in general obligation bonds for the construction of a new school, grades 6-12. In December 2014, a group of citizens requested a referendum be placed on the ballot regarding whether or not the City should issue the bonds for the construction of the school, and, on April 16, 2015, the City held a special referendum. The referendum failed when approximately 60% of the voters voted against the issuance of the bonds.

         On December 5, 2017, the City's Board of Commissioners ("BOC") and its Industrial Development Board ("IDB") each held special meetings and passed resolutions (the "December Resolutions") approving the issuance of Series 2017 Public Improvement Bonds by the IDB in an amount not to exceed $60, 000, 000 for the construction of a new high school and to make improvements to the City's middle school. A summary of the financing transaction is as follows:

1. The School Board would transfer to the IDB certain real property where the city middle school is located and where the new high school would be constructed.
2. The IDB would issue the bonds, a portion of which would be used to improve the middle school and the remainder to ...

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