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Committee recommends county offices move to north Johnson City

Despite recent information indicating TIF funds could possibly be used to fund moving two county offices out of the Downtown Centre if they remained in downtown Johnson City, members of one county committee voted to recommend the offices go elsewhere.
Members of the County-Owned Property Committee will recommend the Commission enter into a five-year lease with a five-year option for the property on Marketplace Boulevard behind Fuddruckers restaurant in north Johnson City to serve as the new location for the County Clerk and County Trustee offices.
Chairman Doyle Cloyd made the motion, and Mark Ferguson seconded, but a unanimous vote did not come until the end of the meeting.
A discussion regarding the possibility of keeping the offices in downtown Johnson City if Northeast State Community College takes over the Downtown Centre preceded the decision.
Commissioner David Tomita reminded members the offices could potentially be renovated and leased through the tax increment financing program if they remain in the same area, which would be at no cost to the county or city budgets.
The Commission may allow the Johnson City Development Authority to pay the county $500,000 at $70,000 a year with TIF funds that would offset moving the offices out of the Downtown Centre.
“It’s very early on, and we’re not in any sort of position to give hard figures because we don’t know what Northeast State wants to do,” said Tomita, who also serves on the JCDA board.
But, Tomita noted, it’s a moot point if the office holders’ feel it is unacceptable to stay in downtown Johnson City.
Despite being asked multiple times by Tomita and Cloyd for their input and opinions, County Trustee Jack Daniels and County Clerk Kathy Storey only offered the need for parking and a good place to serve citizens as requirements for their offices. Neither would weigh in with a definitive answer.
Daniels later said he thinks downtown Johnson City is no longer a safe, viable location. Cloyd added some savings could be seen at the new location if they no longer have to pay for a security officer.
However, Commissioner Mitch Meredith said the deal on the table with Northeast States should be considered.
“If the offices being downtown is important to making Northeast State happen, I think we need to recommend the Commission support it,” he said.
Despite a strong argument against making a decision before knowing if Northeast State is a go, committee members expressed frustration over the time spent on the relocation effort and voted to recommend leasing space in north Johnson City.