Counties are statutorily authorized to acquire and hold property for county purposes. They may also make contracts governing its management, control, and improvement and may also dispose of their properties. T.C.A. § 5-7-101; Op. Tenn. Att'y Gen. 87- 133 (Aug. 5, 1987). Counties have the authority to levy taxes to build, extend, or repair county buildings. T.C.A. § 5-5-122. Counties are authorized under T.C.A. § 5-7-116 to lease land and buildings owned by them.
Counties are also authorized by T.C.A. § 7-51-901 et seq. to enter into long and short-term contracts, leases, and lease-purchase agreements. Long-term contracts are specifically authorized by statute, although lease terms for capital improvement property may not exceed forty (40) years or the useful life of the property, whichever is less. T.C.A. § 7-51-902. When the term of the contract, lease, or lease-purchase agreement is less than five (5) years, the agreement must be approved by a resolution of the county legislative body. If the agreement is for a term greater than five (5) years, county legislative body approval is also required, and public notice of the proposed contract must be given at least seven (7) days prior to the meeting at which it is to be considered. T.C.A. § 7-51-904.
Before the county may sell, lease, exchange, option or make any material disposition of the assets of a hospital owned or operated by the county, the county must comply with the Public Benefit Hospital Sales and Conveyance Act of 2006. This act requires the county to give written notice to the state attorney general containing such information regarding the proposed action as the attorney general may require and then to publish this notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. The attorney general will examine the proposed transaction and report on it. T.C.A. § 48-68-204.