City officials say they were not informed by former mayor about sewer issues


In a last-minute move reportedly taken without consulting the Sparta Board of Aldermen, former mayor Jeff Young reportedly signed a document that would disallow any new sewer taps within the city limits, which could potentially cause a slowdown in construction of homes and businesses.

During a work session for the Sparta Board of Mayor and Aldermen, on Sept. 22, 2022, current mayor Jerry Lowery informed the board that he had learned of a consent decree signed by Young and former city attorney Lynn Omohundro, on Aug. 17, 2022, without any input from the board.

The city has been on notice for environmental violations related to the sewer system overflowing since 2006 and was issued guidelines, in 2019, to correct the issue.  Legal counsel was hired, and, to date, the city has paid over $121,000 in legal fees. According to Lowery, who served as an alderman during that time, this action was not shared with the board.

The former mayor [Young] reportedly entered into the binding agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which states a sewer availability moratorium that restricts any new sewer taps within the city sewer system until the problems are corrected.

Mayor Lowery said he learned about the matter only last week and called the work session to inform the board of aldermen.

“Right now, we have more questions than answers,” Mayor Lowery said. “We, the board, were not consulted on this, and I, as incoming mayor, was not briefed on it until the new city attorney brought it to my attention last week.”

According to Mayor Lowery, meetings are being scheduled to assess both the cost and timeline for repairs and a return to normal business, but, for now, no permits for sewer taps can be issued.

Mayor Lowery has scheduled an emergency board meeting for Thursday, Sept. 29, during which he said he will ask the board to approve emergency funds to begin repairing the areas known to be problematic.

This is a developing story.

The Expositor spoke with former mayor Jeff Young, on Sept. 23, who said he will be preparing a statement in response to this matter.


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