The consultant who told the Dickson County Commission it could withhold $800,000 in education funding says he based that opinion solely on the existence of the 1999 debt payment agreement between the school board and county. A finance consultant with the Tennessee Department of Education agrees the county can divert the money, but only under certain restrictions. The school board’s attorney said there is a chance that authority has been removed now that the board has rescinded the resolution. Marty Spears of the County Technical Advisory Service told the school board Tuesday night that if the 1999 agreement did not exist or had been previously voided, the money in question would be the school board’s to spend as it wants. “The agreement to me is what I think makes the payment be eligible for Maintenance of Effort adjustment,” Spears told the board. Brad Davis of the Department of Education told the board that the state will review the budget passed by the commission to make sure it meets the Maintenance of Effort requirements and if it doesn’t, the state could withhold funds, which could lead to the closing of schools. “Come Oct. 1, if the county does not pass a budget that meets Maintenance of Effort, we will start withholding BEP payments come Oct. 15, and we will hold BEP payments until a budget is passed that meets Maintenance of Effort,” Davis said. While both consultants refused to address the validity of the resolution, saying the provisions for the annual debt payment would be a legal question, school board attorney Jack Garton said the board’s decision to rescind the agreement could mean the Budget Committee’s recommendation to divert $800,000 in education funding to debt service might not be valid any longer. Garton said the resolution approved by the board Tuesday night terminates the board’s obligation and since it was rescinded “effective prior to the approval of any budget,” an argument can be made that it is not in effect when the Dickson County Commission votes on the county’s total budget Monday night.