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Archive approved… sort of

Washington County commissioners have said they are in favor of an archive, but remain in a tug-of-war with the mayor, who has proposed the only viable location to be considered for such a facility.
As proposed, the archive would be established at 103 W. Main St. in Jonesborough, where the mayor and several other departments currently have offices.
During the Monday morning commission meeting, five resolutions surrounding the archive were presented for vote.
Commissioners approved the establishment of a Washington County Records Management and Archives Department and gave permission to levy a fee to a limited number of document requests that will provide the necessary funding.
In addition, they agreed to move the monthly commission meetings to Courtroom 7 of the Justice Center from their current location in the downtown courthouse.
What commissioners wouldn’t approve, however, was relocating the county offices currently in the would-be archive to space at the Washington County Courthouse.
The hold-up is the estimated $49,300 it will take to renovate the courthouse for the mayor’s offices, a recommendation that has already been approved by the Budget Committee.
Commissioner Mark Ferguson said because the budget for the move was put together by Eldridge, the commission would be voting on a total that is based on one person’s opinion rather than concrete figures.
“I have 31 years of experience estimating construction projects of up to $60 million,” Eldridge responded. “I have no discomfort at all representing to this body that the work can be done for this amount or less.”
And the funds are already there, according to Commissioner David Tomita.
“You’re talking about $49,000 that is already in this budget,” he said.
Still Ferguson argued that without exact figures, he wasn’t comfortable approving it.
“Kind of like the insurance,” Tomita quipped, referring to the $5 million insurance policy for the county that was not bid out and was voted upon based on numbers offered by county insurance broker Tom Foster.
“Mayor, Commissioner Tomita is out of line,” Ferguson yelled.
Ultimately, commissioners agreed in a unanimous vote to allow the renovation project to be bid. They will consider the cost again during their May meeting.