Coffee County officials are trying to find out if the county does in fact own the building housing Coffee County Lannom Library in Tullahoma. While the building appears on the list of buildings owned by the county on Coffee County’s website, the deed shows Tullahoma City is the owner.
County officials considered the building to be county property and there had not been any doubt about that, until recently.
The library has been included in the list of county buildings on the county’s website. Additionally, the county has been responsible for maintaining the building. Last year, Coffee County funded repairs to the library’s roof – about $100,000. During the discussions about the roof renovation, county officials assumed the county owned the library.
But recently there have been some questions raised. With the deed being registered to Tullahoma City, county officials have tried to find proof they own the building.
The library is located at N. Collins St., Tullahoma, and the most up-to-date ownership and assessment information for tax year 2020 lists Tullahoma City as owner.
Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell said Robert Huskey, county attorney, is currently reviewing the situation and working to determine all the facts.
“We’re still reviewing that,” said Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell. “I’ve asked the county attorney to review it.”
Cordell added he had no additional comments at this time.
According to Coffee County Register of Deeds Donna Toney, Cordell recently found a deed from years ago showing that the county owns the building. That deed has been recorded, but it wasn’t noted on the tax card, according to Toney.
“It has not been noted in a manner to reflect that this deed was in place,” Toney said.
The News reached out to Tullahoma City Administrator Jennifer Moody for comment and she said the city has been doing research into the ownership as they knew there was some kind of agreement made with the county.
According to Moody, the city found a document from 1962 when then-mayor Jack Farrar leased the property to Coffee County in perpetuity as long as the county would use the property solely as a public library and make improvements and developments when needed.
“My thinking is by all practical terms they have leased it to use for this public library and can improve it and do what they want with it,” said Moody. “But if it ever ceased to be a public library, then I think we would be able to renegotiate the use of the property or take it back.”
Moody said the conversation about ownership came about when the city was talking to Cordell about getting grant funds to help fix the library. They decided to both go back and verify who the owner was because they were getting conflicting information.
“Obviously, with the county investment on it, I can see either thing to be true,” said Moody. “You have all the city property surrounding it which would make you think, at one time, we owned all of that area. We know we have a lease agreement with the senior citizen center so we kind of presumed that it was likely that we kept the property and leased it.”
As the attorneys review the situation, Moody believes the partnership with the county will continue.
“It’s been a successful partnership with the county and having access to the park, community center, senior citizen center and library all closer together. I think it’s beneficial and I hope we continue to work together for a long time,” said Moody.
Kyle Murphy may be reached at email@example.com.